The Instigator
qopel
Con (against)
Losing
11 Points
The Contender
CriticalThinkingMachine
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points

The existence of a supernatural God

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
CriticalThinkingMachine
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/25/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,763 times Debate No: 31684
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (93)
Votes (5)

 

qopel

Con

The burden of proof is on those who make the positive claim (pro).
CriticalThinkingMachine

Pro

My opponent failed to introduce the debate properly. He did not state his resolution (a title is not a resolution); did not lay out any general rules or rules for the rounds, and he did not define any essential terms. If I wanted to I could define "supernatural god" in a way that nobody accepts just to make it an easy win for myself. But that would not make for an interesting debate, so I will not do that.

The only statement my opponent made in his post for round one was that the burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim, who he says is me in this case. This needs to be questioned.

First of all, many would disagree that the burden of proof always falls on the one making the positive claim. For example, if I say that the world which I perceive actually exists, and my friend says that it does not exist, does it make sense to say that the burden of proof is on me because I am making the positive claim? Of course not; the burden of proof falls on the one making the claim that goes against what our reason and experience tell us.

Even if the burden of proof does always fall on the one making the positive claim, that does not mean that atheists are off the hook. They often make positive claims. Does the term "positive atheism" ring a bell? Positive atheism refers to those arguments from atheists that make positive claims about God, mainly that his attributes conflict with each other [1]. I would say that my opponent is ignorant of these arguments, or that he finds them ridiculous, as most sober-minded people do, but he has presented his own positive atheism in past debates [2], so he knows what he said is false. But since my opponent did not present any arguments here, he does not appear to want to defend any of them. He may only be interested in negative atheism. But even with negative atheism, atheists often make positive claims still. For example, if an atheist objects to the cosmological argument, he usually does so by making positive claims about physics. Or concerning arguments about design, atheists will often make positive claims about evolution. Positive claims just can"t be avoided. Get used to it.

The atheist philosopher David Steele believes that the positioning of a burden of proof one side in debates about God"s existence is illogical. [3] With all that I just said, I have to concur.

In his profile comments, I noticed that qopel also said repeatedly that atheism is not a worldview. Of course it is a worldview, unless one is using a non-dictionary definition of the word "worldview." It is a view of the world. Just because atheism does not imply that one holds other worldviews does not mean that atheism is not a worldview. The fact that atheism is a worldview does not make it illogical or false, so I have no idea why some atheists find it so important to tell the world that atheism is not a worldview. It"s nothing to be ashamed of. I am a theist, a capitalist, and a realist among other things. All of which are worldviews, and I"m not ashamed to say that.

With that cleared up, I present my positive arguments for the existence of God.

ARGUMENTS

(1) Beauty and Art
Human beings have the ability to perceive and comprehend beauty. We take pleasure in hearing certain melodies. We may feel captivated by a sunset or a roaring sea. We also have the ability to create art. We need art to survive. We do it for moral, pleasurable, and instructive reason. This is exactly what you would expect if a God existed who loved us. He wants us to be happy and to have an insight into the value of reality. It is exactly what you would not expect if the world were only the result of evolutionary forces. Beauty or art have absolutely no survival value. What could they have evolved for? How could they even have evolved? How do you make the leap from creatures who have no sense of art or beauty to creatures that do, or to use a geometrical analogy, how do you evolve a square out a circle? The answer? You don"t. Beauty and art cannot come from nature. They have no place in nature. The existence of beauty and art therefore point to the existence of a God who loves art and beauty, and who wanted to share it with us.

(2) Morality and Moral Behavior
Our experience tells us both that there is moral order and that human behavior often follows that moral order. We have an intuition that torturing innocent people is wrong, for example, and we engage in behavior that accords with this intuition. This moral order cannot be derived from nature. As the atheist philosopher David Hume explained, you cannot derive an "is" from an "ought". From the fact that kicking someone causes pain it does not logically follow that you ought not to be kicked. [4, 5] But if the "is"es are not natural, they must be beyond nature. Again we are forced to look to God for an origin of morality. And since moral behavior appears to follow from the moral code, moral behavior transcends nature as well. Evolutionists have only explained how animals could engage in the appearance of moral behavior (reciprocal altruism, kin selection etc.) but humans often engage in behavior that contradicts the benefits from these models. We find no answer in nature for human morality. Again, we must look to the supernatural.

(3) Free Will
Our experience confirms that we have free will. Unlike animals, whose behavior is almost entirely predictable and extremely limited in range, human behavior is vast and displays a wide range of creativity. This implies freedom of the will. Since science tells us that the natural world is determined by natural laws, while random mutations and subatomic indeterminacy also occur. None of these include or entail free will. But since we have reason to believe that free will exists, we must look beyond the natural world for its origin. We must affirm the existence of God.

CONCLUSION

I have presented three positive arguments for the existence of God. My opponent must explain why he thinks they do not work.


[1] Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (1990) Martin, Michael

[2] http://www.debate.org...

[3] Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy (2008) Steele, David

[4] A Treatise on Human Nature (1748) Hume, David

[5] Ten Philosophical Mistakes (1985) Adler, Mortimer
Debate Round No. 1
qopel

Con

First off, I'd like to explain something:

A "positive atheist" (AKA Gnostic Atheist) will claim there is no God. In that case, the burden of proof is on the Atheist
to prove there is no God. Since that is impossible, I reject any positive atheism.

Also, if an Atheist uses evolution as a positive claim, they have the burden of proof to provide evidence for evolution,
which is possible, since there is overwhelming evidence to prove evolution as a fact.

So, I still will insist that the burden of proof is ALWAYS on those who make the positive claim.

(1) Beauty and Art
NOW...my opponent said, "We need art to survive.". What proof is there for that?
Just because humans have the ability to appreciate art, doesn't prove there is a God.
It could just be a by-product of intelligence, which evolved for better survival.
Not everything we have is for survival. Wisdom teeth, appendixes and other things are useless for survival.

(2) Morality and Moral Behavior
My opponent claims "This moral order cannot be derived from nature". Once again, where is the evidence for this?
Morality is also used for survival. We don't kill each other, for example, so our species has a better chance to survive.
We are creatures that tend to help each other survive. There's nothing supernatural about that.

(3) Free Will

It's been said that God is almighty and all-knowing.
If God is all-knowing, won't he know if I'll be saved on judgment day before I am even born? If he knows the outcome, how can I use my free will to change the outcome of something God knows will happen? Either I can change what God knows will happen, which means he is not all knowing, or I can't change what he knows will happen, which means I don't have free will.

If I have free will, then an all knowing God can't exist!

So far, none of my opponent's arguments proves a supernatural God exists.
CriticalThinkingMachine

Pro

After my opponent admitted that I was right about that sometimes the burden of proof falls on the atheist, he proceeded to respond to my arguments for God. Unfortunately, his responses contain mistakes that render them incapable of refuting my arguments, as I will explain below. I have summarized his arguments in bold.

ARGUMENTS

(1) My opponent said "We need art to survive." What proof is there for that?

Sorry, I misspoke; I meant to say “We don’t need art to survive. That was what my entire argument expressed, that there is no proof that we need art to survive, as qopel said.

Appreciation of art could be a bi-product of intelligence, which evolved for better survival.

My opponent glosses over the important differences between two different kinds of intelligence, what I’ll call “concrete intelligence” and “abstract intelligence”. Concrete intelligence is intelligence that helps us survive. Abstract intelligence does not help us survive. Concrete intelligence, present in animals, could allow us to rely on past experiences to avoid danger, such as when an animal learns that if he messes with a certain creature, he will get injured, so he will not do that again, or it may allow us to employ memory of the past to guide us in directions where we will be met with
Abstract intelligence helps us with moral issues, imagining the future, imagining hypothetical and things contrary to fact, solving mathematical equations, considering philosophical conundrums, creating narratives, forms of expression and articulation, and yes, art and beauty appreciation, activities which are light-years away from the simple reliance on past to avoid bad and go towards the good.

Art appreciation could be a bi-product of abstract intelligence, but not concrete intelligence. And how could abstract intelligence have been a bi-product of concrete intelligence. As I explained, there is a clear and distinct difference between two. How do you bridge the gap between intelligence that is only used for survival and intelligence that is not used at all for survival? Where is the link? Since we cannot attribute appreciation of art (in abstract intelligence) to nature, my argument still stands that we must look to the supernatural.

Not everything we have is for survival, appendixes are useless for survival.

Appendixes may be useless for survival now, but they probably had survival use in the past. I recall my biology teacher explaining that the reason why we have appendixes is because our bodies used to need them to break down harder foods, back in the pre-historic age. So appendixes are not fundamentally useless, they are just temporarily useless. My argument about the fundamental uselessness of art and beauty for survival still stands. If it doesn’t come from nature and evolution, it comes from the divine.

(2) Morality is also used for survival. We don't kill each other, for example, so our species has a better chance to survive. We are creatures that tend to help each other survive. There's nothing supernatural about that.

Evolution is not based on “helping each other survive”. It is only based on the survival of ones own genes. Evolution is selfish, not in our unkindly sense of the word but in a purely technical sense, genes act only for their own survival, not for the survival of the species. [1] The models that evolutionists use explain altruistic behavior in animals always draws it back to animals doing what is best for their own genes, only by employing others. The problem is that these arguments do not cover obvious and widespread cases of humans acting in ways that do not ensure the survival of their own genes. And even in cases where selfish benefits are consistent with altruistic actions in humans, that does not mean that selfish benefits are the motivation behind these actions. Most humans, at some point, have done something kind for someone without expecting something in return from them. Also, not all morality is used for survival. A kind act may display morality but not have anything to do with the recipients survival. So, again, my argument stands that since moral behavior cannot be grounded in evolution, nature, or survival, we must transcend that and look the supernatural realm.

(3) If I have free will, then an all knowing God can't exist!

My opponent ignored my argument about free will and simply argued his own. I actually agree with his logic, but we never agreed to debate the existence of an “all-knowing God”, we agreed to debate the existence of a “supernatural God”. I for one do not believe that God knows the future, for doing so would be logically impossible. The future does not exist, so how could God know a truth that does not exist? Logical impossibilities are not said to fall under God’s power, so God not being able to see the future does not mean he is not all-knowing.

But regardless, supernatural need not include all-knowing anyway. It only must include being beyond nature. That is what supernatural means.

You can’t change the terms of a debate once it is started. Qopel refuted a God that I was not defending and did not agree to defend. His argument must be discarded and my argument for God remains untouched and hence still stands.

CONCLUSION

In his rebuttal first, my opponent glossed over important discussions in the nature of intelligence and hence rendered his argument invalid. In his second rebuttal, my opponent displays that he does not understand how evolution works and this undermines his argument. In his third rebuttal, my opponent did not address my argument, but only presented his own positive argument which was irrelevant to the debate. My arguments for God still stand.

[1] Dawkins, Richard The Selfish Gene
Debate Round No. 2
qopel

Con

(1) We need art to survive
My opponent asks, "How do you bridge the gap between intelligence that is only used for survival and intelligence that is not used at all for survival?
That's like asking, "How do you bridge the gap between front teeth that is only used for survival and wisdom teeth that is not used at all for survival?"
We evolved with Wisdom teeth. They exist with other types of teeth and evolved the same way, yet are not necessary for survival.

Both abstract and concrete intelligence evolved from the brain. You can not have one without the other.
Abstract reasoning skills are necessary for algebra, yet basic math only requires concrete intelligence.
It can be argued that both basic math and algebra are needed for survival.

(2) Morality is also used for survival.
My opponent claims "Evolution is selfish...genes act only for their own survival, not for the survival of the species."
Humans and other animals are "wired" through evolution which compels us to do things for the survival of the species, not just the individual. An example of that would be a compulsion to have sex.

When a lion cares for its cubs and provides them food, is that selfish? No, but it's
needed for the the survival of the cubs and the species. That type of wired behavior came about with evolution.
Mothers are compelled to nurture their offspring. They allow them to feed on their breasts. It's not selfish and it's behavior that came about through evolution.

Humans have evolved as social creatures. We don't live alone. We depend on each other for survival. Stronger males protect weaker women and children. There is power in numbers. It's easier to survive together than alone.

My opponent accuses me of not knowing evolution. I counter that accusation and claim my opponent is the one who does not understand evolution based on his quote, "Evolution is selfish..."

(3) Free Will

My opponent defined supernatural as "must include being beyond nature". Being able to know everything is beyond nature.
A supernatural God would be capable of supernatural things, including being able to know everything, including the future.
Just because my opponent doesn't believe that God knows the future, doesn't make it true.
Belief is not the same as truth.

I did not change the terms of the debate. According to my opponent's own definition of supernatural, an "all-knowing God" fits with a God who is "beyond nature".

I conclude that my opponent failed to meet his burden of proof to provide evidence that a supernatural God exists.

Vote Con
CriticalThinkingMachine

Pro

Art and Beauty

Asking how do you bridge the gap between abstract intelligence and concrete intelligence is like asking how do you bridge the gap between front teeth that is only used for survival and wisdom teeth that is not used at all for survival?"

Absurd. I already explained that appendixes, wisdom teeth, etc. most likely were necessary for survival (wisdom teeth might have been needed for Neanderthals when chewing different kinds of food), even if there existence extended beyond their use. Qopel completely ignored this point. This counts as a concession. His analogy is therefore false.

But I’ll take it step further. Let’s suppose, contrary to fact, that wisdom and appendixes never had any survival use. One can easily see how they can be a by-product of what is necessary. Wisdom teeth were teeth that incidentally never got used. The appendix was just some extra tissue at the end of the large intestine. Nothing too mysterious. But to say that my ability to understand, appreciate, and critique Citizen Kane, for example is somehow a byproduct of my ability to get food, water, and to stay out of danger is kidding himself. There is simply no comparison between abstract intelligence/concrete intelligence and front teeth/back teeth. They’re nowhere in the same ball-park.

Both abstract and concrete intelligence evolved from the brain. You can not have one without the other.

That obviously is not true. You cannot have abstract intelligence without concrete intelligence, but you certainly can have abstract intelligence without concrete intelligence. The appreciation of the beauty of a sunset, for example, is not necessary for survival.

It can be argued that both basic math and algebra are needed for survival.

Okay, so argue it! There is no evidence that they are, nor is there any evidence that any of the other aspects of abstract intelligence are. Abstract intelligence is not just useless, it is extravagantly, mind-blowing useless. Qopel has provided no reason for believing that abstract intelligence came from concrete intelligence. My argument for God still stands.

Morality

We are wired by evolution to do things that help the survival of the species, not just the individual. An example of that would be a compulsion to have sex.

In sex, we ensure the survival of our own genes, not the survival of the species. His example fails. All the evidence from evolution and genes says that genes act for their own survival, not the survival of the species. [1]

When a lion cares for its cubs and provides them food, is that selfish?

Genetically speaking, yes! The cubs carry the same genes as the parent lion. By caring for them, the genes in the parent ensure that they will survive in the children. This example fails too. My opponent seems to be confusing individuals, or individual organisms, with genes. He thinks that because one animal does something nice for another animal, it is not selfish. He does not stop to think about whether the action serves one’s own genes. Genes don’t give a hoot about the survival of the species, never have, never will. They only do what is best for their own survival, though that may sometimes appear

To summarize, evolution (nature) is driven by the selfish gene. Much of human behavior is blatantly non-selfish, directly acting against our selfish genes. If nature only allows for actions benefiting one’s own genes, we must look beyond nature for an explanation for actions that show genuine concern for others. Again, we must look towards God. My argument still stands.

Free Will

My opponent defined supernatural as "must include being beyond nature". Being able to know everything is beyond nature.

So what? Having to defend a supernatural God only means that I have to defend at least one supernatural attribute. That does not necessarily have to be omniscience. It could be omnipotence or omni-benevolence. I did not agree to defend omniscience. Omniscience is sufficient for a supernatural God, but it is not necessary. (It’s easy to confuse the two.) You cannot decide other terms that you want to apply in the debate after it has already started.

And also, I explained that because knowing the future is a logical impossibility, and God is not believed to do logical impossibilities, therefore his omniscience does not cover knowing the future. So Qopel’s argument that God does not know the future does not mean that God is not all-knowing. Qopel never addressed this point. A dropped point counts as a concession.

Just because my opponent doesn't believe that God knows the future, doesn't make it true. Belief is not the same as truth.

I did not argue that what I believe of God is true. Stop attacking a straw man. I argued that since qopel failed to define God, I can use whatever definition I would like. So I did, and qopel did not address that conception. This was not a debate about what is true of God’s nature. It was a debate about whether God exists. We can define God any way we like, and then try to prove or refute that conception. That’s what I did.

I did not change the terms of the debate. According to my opponent's own definition of supernatural, an "all-knowing God" fits with a God who is "beyond nature".

So what? Who cares if it fits with it? I already explained that being required to defend supernatural does not entail having to define all-knowing, as long as I defend something supernatural, I have done my job. Qopel is overstating my burden. I can defend a supernatural God without defending an all-knowing God. Qopel doesn’t seem to understand this. H

Once again, qopel failed to address my argument for God based on free will. Dropped points count as concessions. He also violated his own opening rules. By saying that the burden falls on the one making the positive claim and by not presenting an argument, he implies that he will not make any positive arguments, but will only respond to mine. Then he presented his own positive argument. Once again, he tried to change the terms of the debate.

CONCLUSION

My first argument for God consisted in arguing that beauty and art require a divine explanation. My opponent countered by saying that there are some things that are not necessary for survival but that do not have a divine explanation. But his examples failed. Biologists have explained that these things used to have survival purposes. Hence, my argument for God still stands. But even if they did not fail, there is no comparison between his examples and mine. Art and beauty appreciation has no place in nature. It is therefore proof of the supernatural.

My second argument for God consisted in arguing that humanity’s moral behavior requires a divine explanation. My opponent countered by saying that evolution drives us to help the species survive. But this conflicts with scientific evidence that evolution is driven by a selfish gene that couldn’t care less about the survival of the species. Morality is not found in evolution, hence it must be found in a supernatural God. My argument still stands. I based my factual claims off the claims of one of the most respected evolutionists of our time. I highly doubt that qopel knows more about evolution than a professional evolutionist.

My third argument for God consisted in arguing that free will requires a divine explanation. My opponent ignored this and instead presented his own argument against God. But he attacked a conception of God that was never agreed to at the start of the debate. My argument still stands since it was never touched and my opponent’s arguments are off-topic.

Qopels responses to my arguments either use false examples, false analogies, rest on a misunderstanding of evolution, make dropped points, or are off-topic and add terms to the debate that were not agreed to at the start. He has not shown why any of my arguments for God fail. I have fulfilled my burden. He has not.

VOTE PRO

[1] Dawkins, Richard The Selfish Gene
Debate Round No. 3
93 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
If you want to know why I now have a zero tolerance policy, just look at all the debates I lost on vote bombs.
Posted by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
I lost this debate on vote bombs and many others and you can't help me win one f-ing debate that I deserved to win. F U.
Posted by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
That's not fixing it. You're F-ing with me.
Posted by Smithereens 3 years ago
Smithereens
Tis done, but it wasn't a vb, get that straight.
Posted by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
Fix your vote bomb, and I might consider it.
Posted by Smithereens 3 years ago
Smithereens
Also, if you want help with your votebombs, would you mind unblocking me so I can talk to you freely? It's weird posting on your debates what should be in a pm.
Posted by Smithereens 3 years ago
Smithereens
This debate was seriously votebomed I agree. I just set up a forum topic to help out: http://www.debate.org...

post him there with a link to this debate and make him suffer.
Posted by qopel 3 years ago
qopel
LibertarianWithAVoice Vote bombed with a cut and paste of his RVF from another one of my debates, which he also vote bombed.
A-hole.
Posted by toolpot462 3 years ago
toolpot462
Then you should be offended by this: " Pro -had way more citations -made more coherent arguments -didn't make as many blatantly false claims -structured his sentences better"

I see no justification. How did you make more coherent arguments? Where did Con make blatantly false claims? What sentence structure is better? And how do you deserve conduct?

As for that statement you made, I did show how it was wrong. Just read what I said carefully in my comment: "You can't have A without B, but you certainly can have A without B? I deducted points from your side because of this."

Anyway, you won, so congratulations and shut the hell up.
Posted by CriticalThinkingMachine 3 years ago
CriticalThinkingMachine
toolpot6462:

Just because I presented a long introduction that did not go into arguments for God yet does not mean it was a rant. You gave no evidence that it was a rant.

You still didn't explain what was wrong with the statement from me that you quoted.

I'm not "butthurt" that you disagree with me, I'm offended that your provided no justification for your vote. You are entitled to your opinion, but you have to defend it with reasons and arguments.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by LibertarianWithAVoice 3 years ago
LibertarianWithAVoice
qopelCriticalThinkingMachineTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro -had way more citations -made more coherent arguments -didn't make as many blatantly false claims -structured his sentences better
Vote Placed by imabench 3 years ago
imabench
qopelCriticalThinkingMachineTied
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Reasons for voting decision: countering history
Vote Placed by 1Historygenius 3 years ago
1Historygenius
qopelCriticalThinkingMachineTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were never properly contested. Pro had good sources and Con never used any.
Vote Placed by toolpot462 3 years ago
toolpot462
qopelCriticalThinkingMachineTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I'm giving conduct to Con because of Pro's rant in the first round. Arguments to Con because 1. Pro failed to prove that art cannot be a byproduct of evolution 2. Pro failed to prove that "moral order cannot be derived from nature," and 3. Pro failed to prove that free will is not a result of nature. Con clearly stipulated that Pro had the burden to prove that a supernatural God exists. I'm giving S&G to Con for this quote by Pro: "You cannot have abstract intelligence without concrete intelligence, but you certainly can have abstract intelligence without concrete intelligence." This was in the last round and went completely uncorrected by further explanation. Sources to Pro.
Vote Placed by KingDebater 3 years ago
KingDebater
qopelCriticalThinkingMachineTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Arguments to Pro because his arguments were never properly responded to, sources to Pro because he used sources and conduct to Con because of Pro's unnecessary rant in the first round.