The Instigator
Amoranemix
Con (against)
The Contender
PGA
Pro (for)

The moral argument for God is sound.

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Voting Style: Judge Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/4/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 986 times Debate No: 103770
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (49)
Votes (0)

 

Amoranemix

Con

This is a reissue of the challenge www.debate.org/debates/The-moral-argument-for-God-is-sound.

The argument is the following :

1. If God does not exist, objective morality does not exist.
2. Objective morality does exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

subjective : to a high degree dependent on opinion
- The voting is to be done by judges.
- The character limited is 10.000.
- The first round is for acceptance and additional definitions only.
- The second round is for the presentation on one's case without rebuttals.
- No new arguments may be presented in the last round.

We (mostly my opponent) have found some judges. Maybe it will work this time.

May the truth prevail.
PGA

Pro


Thanks, Amoranemix, for setting up this debate!
I ACCEPT!

Additional definitions I hold relevant to this discussion:

Definition of relativism
1
a : a theory that knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing
b : a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them
2 : relativity


I will mostly be opposing 1b and the philosophical and moral relativism definitions found below.


Philosophy
The theory that value judgments, as of truth, beauty, or morality, have no universal validity but are valid only for the persons or groups holding them.



Moral Relativism
The philosophized notion that right and wrong are not absolute values, but are personalized according to the individual and his or her circumstances or cultural orientation…The opposite of moral relativism is moral absolutism, which espouses a fundamental, Natural Law of constant values and rules, and which judges all persons equally, irrespective of individual circumstances or cultural differences.


Moral Absolutism
There are facts about which actions are right and wrong, and these facts do not depend on the perspective, opinion, or anything about the person who happens to be describing those facts.


Objective Morality
Objective morality is the idea that a certain system of ethics or set of moral judgments is not just true according to a person's subjective opinion, but factually true.

Objectivity
The terms “objectivity” and “subjectivity,” in their modern usage, generally relate to a perceiving subject (normally a person) and a perceived or unperceived object. The object is something that presumably exists independent of the subject’s perception of it. In other words, the object would be there, as it is, even if no subject perceived it. Hence, objectivity is typically associated with ideas such as reality, truth and reliability.
The perceiving subject can either perceive accurately or seem to perceive features of the object that are not in the object. For example, a perceiving subject suffering from jaundice could seem to perceive an object as yellow when the object is not actually yellow. Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error…

“Objective judgment or belief” refers to a judgment or belief based on objectively strong supporting evidence, the sort of evidence that would be compelling for any rational being. A subjective judgment would then seem to be a judgment or belief supported by evidence that is compelling for some rational beings (subjects) but not compelling for others. It could also refer to a judgment based on evidence that is of necessity available only to some subjects.

http://www.iep.utm.edu...

Moral realism
Moral realism (also ethical realism) is the position that ethical sentences express propositions that refer to objective features of the world (that is, features independent of subjective opinion), some of which propositions may be true to the extent that they report those features accurately.

https://en.wikipedia.org...










Debate Round No. 1
Amoranemix

Con

In philosophical topics one can debate without the need for encyclopedic knowledge, like one would in a creation - evolution debate. I have also not adopted a moral philosophy that I read about and then liked, but developed my own. So I can't reference you lots of information and quotes about the merits of my favourite moral philosophy.

Argument from contradiction

The moral argument is a god-of-the-gaps argument. People don't understand morality and God is so smart and powerful he must be able to do it. My main goal is to provide understanding, making the gap left for God as small as possible. I will also address some of argumentation I have seen presented in support of the moral argument , among others by my opponent.

The moral argument uses the principle that based on a contradiction one can prove almost anything.

Suppose that the statement S is both true and false. So we can use the following assumptions :
A1) S
A2) not S

Let us now 'prove' the earth is flat.

P1) If the earth is not flat, then not S. (from A2)
P2) S
C) The earth is flat.

C follows from P1 and P2 if S and not S are mutually exclusive, which they must be. The argument is thus valid, but one of the assumptions is false.

In the moral argument S is 'Objective morality exists.' and the conclusion has been replaced by 'God exists.'

Rather than assuming A1 and A2, theists try to prove them.
A1, that objective morality does not exist, is 'proven' by appeal to ignorance : No one really understands how objective morality can exist, hence, unless we invoke magic, it doesn't.
A2, that objective morality exists, is 'proven' by appeal to intuition and popularity : Deep down we all know some things are really wrong. Those who don't know that are usually insignificant enough to be ignored, the goal not being to prove A1, but to convince as many people as possible.

Having established A1 and A2, theists resolve the contradiction by invoking God as creator of objective morality, without getting into the details as to how that is supposed to work, as that would open their argument to attack.

Before trying to establish whether objective morality is, let us first decide what objective morality is.

Language is conventional

You can find an explanation on this topic by a professor who had more space in [1] and a course on how to understand arguments by that same professor in [2], where this is also treated. A new course starts September 25th.

Language is a set of agreements used to facilitate communication. That has the uncanny consequence , one my opponent refuses to accept, that whether claims are true or false depends on what people decide.

How does that work ?

Consider a math teacher drawing what resembles a circle on a blackboard before an audience. Consider further that person pointing to the blackboard and making the claim : “That is a circle.”
Is that true ?
In order to establish that, the claim needs to be assigned meaning. It is the meaning behind the claim that is true or false, not the words. Different people may interpret it differently and consequently reach a different answer. There are probably good reasons to believe that the language used is English and that 'that' is referring to the just drawn shape, and thus everyone in the audience should interpret the claim using those conventions.

Nonetheless, 'circle' is ambiguous. It could be a mathematically perfect circle (a set of points in a plane equidistant to a single point), or something that is a good enough approximation.
So there will be two camps : Those who agree that is a circle and those who disagree. There is no way to prove either side right or wrong without clarifying the convention, i.e. decide based on personal opinion what circle means in that sentence.
If the agreed convention is that 'circle' means mathematically perfect circle, then the claim is false.
If the shape just needs to be close enough ('close enough' needing to be explicated), then the claim is probably true.

Things can hardly be more objective than mathematical concepts and yet a mathematical claim depends for its truth on opinion and is therefore subjective.

Consider the claim 'Raping children for fun is wrong.' Almost everyone will agree that is true. However, if we were to switch the meaning of the words right and wrong, would raping children for fun still be wrong ?
Here people will disagree. The reason is that I have sown confustion : In my question, did I use 'wrong' with the normal meaning or the new, switched meaning ?

Conclusion : before judging moral claims, we should first ascertain that everyone agrees on the meaning behind the claim.

Thus we will next investigate what people mean when making moral claims.

What is morality ?

For this debate we need a definition of objective morality that allows us to evaluate the truth of both premises of the moral argument as presented in the opening post.

Let us first try the definition provided by my opponent :
the idea that a certain system of ethics or set of moral judgments is not just true according to a person's subjective opinion, but factually true.

Obviously that idea exists. It may be completely false, but that doesn't prevent people from fostering it.
That idea clearly does not depend on God as people can believe things without God's help and this belief is not special in that respect. (That the existence of people themselves – and as a consequence their ideas – may depend on God is a completely different argument and thus off topic.)

Let us try a more useful definition, that I explained more elaborately in [3].

Morality is a method of classification of behaviour and agents.

In other words, morality is a standard that applies to behaviour and agents. The claims that my opponent relies on to be factually true to support that morality is objective are moral judgements. Judgements are made according to a standard (a method of classification), even if that standard is one's own personal opinion. Hence the meaning of the moral values attributed to behaviour (or the agents exhibiting the behaviour), like bad, wrong, evil, nice are defined by the standard that is used in making the moral claim.

So, the claim 'Raping children for fun is wrong' means 'Raping children for fun is wrong according to <some standard>'. It is that standard that defines the term 'wrong'. It is therefore easy to cause confusion by omitting that standard. I complained about that in our forum debate 'Objective morality argument', post 733 [4] :

PGA 477
"Your mind is your highest authority on goodness, right? Why is what you believe actually good since your mind determines it?"
Amoranemix 733 :
"Notice how again you made your question ambiguous by failing to mention the moral standard you are implicitly referring to."
PGA 802 :
"That is not true. I refer to God as the objective measure. The Ten Commandments relate to both our relationship with God and our relationship with our fellow man. Jesus summed them up in the two commands."

My opponent seemed to claim that he relied on God's moral standard (GM). Let us rephrase the questions he asked me with that clarification :
“Your mind is your highest authority on goodness according to GM, right ? Why is what you believe actually good according to GM, since your mind determines it ?”
Those questions are nonsensical to ask an atheist who has given no indication to believe anything close to what they imply. The thread is full of such questions.

What is more likely to go on is that my opponent thrives on the confusion about the ambiguity of the used moral standards. It doesn't make any sense. No one understands it. Therefore, God must have done it.

Conclusions :
With morality, we mean moral standard.
Moral claims are ambiguous in absensce of reference standard.

Does objective morality exist ?

Another ambiguity is the meaning of the term 'existence'. Existence is clear for physical objects. However, what does it mean for a standard to exist ?

Consider the following moral standard :
'Stealing is wrong.'
It is a substandard of the moral standard of almost everyone (which is why almost everyone agrees with it) and is extremely incomplete, but does it exist ?

I think a good definition for existence for standards is to let it depends on their use : if a standard is used, then it exists. Furthermore, if one has an objective standard for ownership, for example as part of a legislation, then the standard is objective, as one can objectively classify theft as wrong. Given the 7 billion people on earth, at any time someone must be using an objective moral standard, which then by definition exists.

Conclusion : objective morality exists.

Does objective morality depend on God ?

Obviously in order to use an objective moral standard one does not need God's help. That falsifies the first premise of the argument.

But objective morality is subjective !?

My opponent will likely object that using an objective moral standard does not make your morality objective, as you could have chosen another objective moral standard.

Consider the two contradictory, objective moral standards :
'Stealing is wrong.'
'Stealing is right.'
Just by virtue of choosing your moral standard – the second one has its merits – you make your morality subjective. However, by arguing that way you are changing the meaning of objective and invalidating the conclusion we reached earlier, namely that objective morality exists.

Making moral claims or judgements requires the use of a moral standard. Since there is more than one mutually exclusive standard that one could use, that necessarily implies choosing one. That would make all morality subjective.
.
May the truth prevail.
.
REFERENCES :
[1] Understanding Arguments by Walter Sinnot-Armstrong and Robert Fogelin : zu.edu.jo/UploadFile/Library/E_Books/Files/LibraryFile_17113_11.pdf
See page 17 on language and convention
[2] www.coursera.org/learn/understanding-arguments
[3] The subjectivity of objective morality : http://www.debate.org...
[4] http://www.debate.org...
PGA

Pro

The Moral Argument for God is Sound.
The task of this debate is to show that the moral argument for God is rationally sound; it makes sense. To do this, it requires I demonstrate that the contrary argument makes no sense.

My opponent (Con) proposes this syllogism:
1. If God does not exist, objective morality does not exist.
2. Objective morality does exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

1. If God does not exist, objective morality does not exist.
There are numerous ways to tackle this argument.

1) Prove the Bible is reasonable to believe as God’s word to humanity, affirming His existence. In this way, the moral argument for objective morality would make sense because it is reasonable to believe there IS an objective best - an omniscient Being who knows all things and commands against evil.

Prophecy is concrete factual proof that can be used to establish the Bible as logically sound. I will leave this argument for another day since we are debating morality.

2) Contrast the two positions – God or impersonal forces. What is the more sensible explanation?
If you take God out of the equation, what is left is an impersonal, indifferent, uncaring, random, evolutionary process devoid of reason that is responsible for morality - but how?

How does such a process arrive at moral beings? The answer is not known but speculated upon and assumed it does happen.

"In perhaps its broadest form, the How question asks how the consciousness of the relevant sort could be caused or realized by nonconscious items, but we can generate a wealth of more specific questions by further restricting the range of the relevant explanans...How it is that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue, is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the Djin, when Aladdin rubbed his lamp (1866)."

The article goes on to describe many different competing explanations of consciousness.

"...neuroscientists still don’t know what consciousness is, or how it’s even possible...Most neuroscientists agonize over consciousness because it’s so difficult to explain..."

So, if and how consciousness arises from physicalism/matter is highly speculative. Without conscious, and reasoning beings morality is dead. With God, we have the necessary being that creates other sentient, thinking beings. With subjective beings, it appears we do not have the answers. World history testifies against subjective beings finding the moral truth without first presupposing God.

3) Show that subjective morality or relativism does not make sense of morality, nor can it. Relativism would demonstrate the impossibility of basing morality on a fixed best. How do you determine "good" or "right" if you have no fixed best, just subjective beings arbitrarily making it up?

The evolutionary system has no moral or teleological end in sight. If morals are always evolving then how does someone ever arrive at a BEST? If "best" is arbitrarily made up and differs between cultures and people what standard do we measure "best" against? How does an uncaring, indifferent, impersonal, non-thinking universe achieve an end in sight - something that is best? There is no REASON that it would or SHOULD since it is a process devoid of intelligence or uniformity.

How does a subjective human being arrive at best? This is something I will be looking for my opponent to answer.

[1] Is genocide right?
[2] Is infanticide right?
[3] Is cannibalism right?
[4] Is human sacrifice right?
[5] Is child abuse/molestation right?
Can my opponent say for certain? Does he know for certain?

Here are countries, listed by Wikipedia, that have practiced or still practice these:
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org......
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org......
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org......
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org......
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org......
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org......

So, if good is what evokes approval, then anything can be passed off as good. It is all relative. Therefore, to determine what is good an absolute, objective best is needed. Can Con produce such a standard?

I will be looking for Con's SOUND explanation to make sense of morality from the subjective stance, OR prove that objective morality apart from God is possible and sound.

2. Objective morality does exist.
Morality requires a best. You can't describe something as good unless you have an accurate, fixed measure of goodness; something that is best to measure good against. Since morality is a mindful process, which conscious being established what is best?

A=A; The Law of Identity (The heart of the matter).
You can’t have a moral right unless you have a fixed identity for what is right.

Physically,

A dog is a dog. A dog is not a cat. A dog has a distinct, fixed identity.

Likewise, abstractly/nonmaterially,
Good is good. Good is not bad. What is right has a definite, fixed identity.

You can’t determine right without having an objective best measure against which to compare rights.
Con must show how two opposing subjective individuals, or systems of thought regarding what is right, can both (logically) be right, or how he determines which is correct. The Law of Identity, as well as the Law of Noncontradiction, and Law of Excluded Middle says both can't be right because they state opposites. So, if he can't make sense of which moral view is indeed right then the case for the biblical (revealed) God (as the ultimate objective being) is sound in making sense of morality. It is sound because there is a best we can measure what is right against, versus subjective claims. It is sound because it gives a reasonable answer to the query.

Con, which society is correct in its view of abortion as a woman's right to choose, or correct that it is wrong (unless in life threatening conditions)?

Without this fixed measure goodness and rightness loses its identity. Morality makes no sense unless you have something more than subjective opinion to fix it on because it becomes a question of whose personal, relative opinion, or which cultural opinion? Then, what makes such opinion RIGHT? Let’s see if Con has a solution or just wants to beg the question that morality doesn't need one. This inability to establish a fixed identity is one of the problems of relativism. It can’t create any fixed moral identity.

The Bible has a sound reason for why there is evil (moral wrong). People suppress the knowledge of God. In fact, the biblical account attributes this to the Fall when moral relativism started. What moral relativists do is enact their preferences - their likes and dislikes, since it 's hard to fasten objective moral beliefs to subjective minds without an objective being first revealing them. It would be interesting to see how Con does this.

Morality requires mindful being, yet not just any mindful being. Morality is not dependent on Con's belief or my belief. It is independent of either. But morality is necessarily a product of conscious beings. The question is which mind is the necessary mind. Can Con point to that mind(s)? Can Con show his thinking is objective in regards to morality?

I contend that morality is like mathematical laws; we discover them via our consciences. What is good is independent of whether Con or I believe it. I argue that Con KNOWS it is never right to torture an innocent baby for the fun of it, neither murder or rape an innocent human being or baby for fun. So these are objective moral principles.

The Bible lays down a moral code that I believe is most sensible and objective in our human dealing with each other:
1) Do not murder,
2) Do not steal,
3) Do not lie,
4) Do not commit adultery,
5) Do not covet.
That covers humanities relationship with each other. Jesus summed these principles up in "love your neighbor as yourself."

If Con does not think these are objective moral standards of human conduct, then let him JUSTIFY how it is ever right to murder, lie, steal, or rape for fun. If he can't do that then, he thinks these are objective, universal moral obligations also.

A stone nor a tree contemplate right and wrong, so material, mechanical processes are not a SOUND explanation for deriving morality. Unless Con can present a sound reason how something physical/material can acquire the non-material, abstract nature of consciousness, morality, logic, intelligence/reason, and life, for his view to be consistent, then I contend it is not.

Norman Geisler makes the argument that "human thoughts and transcendent moral laws are not material things. They are immaterial entities that cannot be weighed or physically measured." - I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. p. 187

So, Con has to take a giant leap of faith from what we observe - minds and conscious moral beings giving rise to other similar beings - to demonstrating material things giving rise to immaterial entities such as morality. He has to prove that morals are physical and explain them as such.

3. Therefore, God exists.
He is the explanation that is sound and can make sense of morality.

Con needs to demonstrate he can, or prove that morality does not exist, that what we call moral is just opinion enforced by might.

A few questions for Con:
1) Does evil exist?
2) Is tolerance a universal "good" or are there some things you should not tolerate?
3) Is it EVER right to torture a baby for fun, or murder for fun?
4) Are love and kindness "good" qualities, independent of what a person might think of them?
5) Are human beings intrinsically valuable?
Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
49 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by PGA 7 months ago
PGA
Thank you!

Amoranemix: "I should be able to post my round 3 this evening. I can even make time tomorrow.
By the way, how does one continue a debate where a round has been forfeited ?"

The only way currently, to my knowledge, is to avoid missing a deadline. Once a deadline is missed the debate is in limbo - dead in the water.
Posted by Amoranemix 7 months ago
Amoranemix
Voila.

Here is the third installment of the debate : www.debate.org/debates/The-moral-argument-for-God-is-sound./3/

I should be able to post my round 3 this evening. I can even make time tomorrow.

By the way, how does one continue a debate where a round has been forfeited ?
Posted by PGA 7 months ago
PGA
Talk about stalled!
Posted by dsjpk5 7 months ago
dsjpk5
This debate is becoming very curious.
Posted by PGA 7 months ago
PGA
I sent a message to Wylted. He is okay with the transition. Up to you now. Everything is done. Just waiting for you.
Posted by PGA 7 months ago
PGA
I sent a message to Airmax. Here is his response.

Airmax1227: "If I have the time, I'll do my best to judge the debate at its conclusion"
Posted by PGA 7 months ago
PGA
YOU: "I still don't understand why 'the transfer' needs to be coordinated or be made in a hurry."

There is an obligation when committing to a debate. The timeframe of 72 hours for your argumentation to be posted has expired. For the sake of the debate if you need extra time then just ask. If not, then what is the problem? To be fair, your argument should be posted ASAP since your time expired at roughly 4AM on Friday morning. So, two days have already passed. As I said, to transfer the data will take awhile on my part. I may need around 1-2 hours in all to make the format the same. It is copy and paste, then highlights and enbolding. Plus you add your additional definitions and I get to fix the broken links.

YOU: "In addition, airmax1227 and Wylted have not yet responded."

They already committed to judge the debate. The only thing that will change is the transfer. Do you think that will be a problem?

Peter
Posted by Amoranemix 7 months ago
Amoranemix
I still don't understand why 'the transfer' needs to be coordinated or be made in a hurry.

In addition, airmax1227 and Wylted have not yet responded.
Posted by PGA 7 months ago
PGA
I see you are online now. Are you ready to tackle the transfer?
Posted by PGA 7 months ago
PGA
YOU: "I have messaged three judges whether they would go along with this. Dsjpk5 does not accept messages at this time."
"As far as I am concerned, reposting immediately is unnecessary. I suppose there is no reason to wait more than 50 hours, but the next day should be OK."

Now that Dsjpk5 has indicated he will accept I see no reason to delay the debate if we are to work within the same time restraints - 72hrs. each. To repost each Round will take some time, since I am using the Rich Text format. We should coordinate our responses within a reasonable timeframe. I think 4hrs would be reasonable for the whole debate to be up and running again once you receive this message and we can arrange a common time.
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