The Instigator
socialpinko
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
ApostateAbe
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points

The moral argument for the existence of God is sound

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
socialpinko
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/25/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,029 times Debate No: 19481
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (17)
Votes (6)

 

socialpinko

Pro

This debate is for Socialpinko's ELO Tournament, Group A Round 1.

===Resolution and BoP===

Pro argues that the moral argument for the existence of God is sound. Con will argue that it is either not sound or is not valid. The BoP will be on the Pro. Pro must provide a positive argument for the defense of the resolution, while Con must show why Pro's argument is flawed.

===Definitions===

The definition of God which will be used for the scope of this debate will be the traditional tri-omni God. An entity which possesses the characteristics of being all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good.

Valid argument: When an argument "takes a form that makes it impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion nevertheless to be false."[1]

Sound argument: When an argument "is both valid, and all of its premises are actually true."[1]

I will post the actual moral argument along with my points for it's soundness in the next round.

===Structure and rules===

1. Drops will count as concessions.

2. Semantic or abusive arguments will not be counted.

3. New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted.

4. R1 is for acceptance. Argumentation will begin in R2.

[1] http://www.iep.utm.edu...
ApostateAbe

Con

I accept the debate. May the most reasonable arguments win!
Debate Round No. 1
socialpinko

Pro

The moral argument for God's existence has been proposed in several different forms. So to keep confusion to an absolute minimum I will define which version of the argument I will be employing here. The specific formulation which I will be using for this debate draws upon the nature of moral facts and concludes that God is the best explanation for their existence. The logical syllogism is as follows.

Premise 1: Objective moral facts exist.

Premise 2: Moral facts are non-natural.

Premise 3: The existence of moral facts of this nature are best explained by the existence of God.

Conclusion: God more than likely exists.

One of the properties of a sound argument is for it to be valid, that it's conclusion logically flows from it's premises. What P1- 4 show is that moral facts have certain properties and that God is the best explanation. If something exist and there is a more than likely explanation for it's existence(and nature), then there is good reason to believe that whatever the best explanation is is likely true. But validity is not the only requisite necessary for soundness. I must also show that the premises themselves are true and this I assume is what the majority of the debate will focus on.

P1: Objective moral facts exist.

Sub-P1: There is no categorical difference between moral and sense perception.
Sub-P2: Sense perceptions are prima facie justified.
Sub-C: Moral perceptions are prima facie justified.

Moral facts can be known to be true through moral perception or "intuition". The defense of this relies on an explicitly epistemological argument(it says nothing of the ontological characteristics of moral facts if they exist). The reason we can come to know these facts is the same way in which we come to know things about the outside world(e.g. sense perception). If I touch a stove, my senses tell me that it is hot in the form of a burn on my hand. From this, I know that the stove is hot. My sense perceptions have allowed me to perceive a fact about the stove. There is no reason why moral and sense perception are non-analogous and if there is my opponent ought to show it to disprove my premise. If sense perceptions can be prima facie reliable, the same can be said of moral perceptions.

P2: Moral facts are non-natural.

This can be shown with an argument from the contrary, meaning by showing that the opposite(and necessary conclusion if P2 is false) is wrong. This conclusion would be moral naturalism. The most cogent argument against moral naturalism is the naturalistic fallacy proposed by G.E. Moore. The basic formulation states that arriving at an evaluative conclusion(that something X is good or moral) from a factual premise(that something X possesses property Y) is fallacious in that an evaluative conclusion requires at least one evaluative premise. To say that gingers are good because gingers have red hair is fallacious because one arrives at an evaluative conclusion through a factual)descriptive)premise.

Premise 3: The existence of moral facts of this nature are best explained by the existence of God.

From the non-naturalness and objectivity of moral facts, one can most reasonably assume that they are the product of an entity possessing the qualities of omnipotence(necessitating omni-authoritativeness) and omni-benevolence.

Omnipotence

Possessing omnipotence is the first quality of a God that I will undertake to prove. For any objectively prescriptive statement to be truly binding, it must come from a truly authoritative source. Obviously if a toddler tells you to give him your wallet you are not obliged to since the toddler has no authority over you. God, in the scope of this debate, is definitionally the highest authority since it is all powerful and thus prescriptions that it makes are the most binding.

Omni-benevolence

Besides omnipotence though, it can be shown that God is omni-benevolent or all perfect. God's perfection would originate in it's ontological qualities or it's nature. This means that by it's qualities, actions prescribed by this God would have the nature of being morally correct. Without the existence of an omni-benevolent being, there is no standard for which to base moral claims.

Conclusion: God more than likely exists.

As I have shown, objective moral facts exist and possess a certain nature(non-naturalism) and that these two facts are best explained by the existence of an omni-potent and omni-benevolent being i.e. God since the facts of their nature can be explained by an all-good and all-powerful(authoritative) entity.
ApostateAbe

Con


Introduction


I am grateful for my opponent for presenting his opening argument in such a singular and well-organized manner.


Though I have objections to all three premises, my objections will focus on the seeming falsehood of Premise 1: “Objective moral facts exist.” This is a belief that is too often taken as a given, but the belief seems to me impossible to incorporate into a cogent theoretical model of existence. In other words, Premise 1 is incoherent. If this premise fails, then the argument fails, though not necessarily the conclusion (there may still be a God, but the probability of that conclusion would not follow from this argument).


Definition: whenever I say, “objects,” I mean items or attributes with objective existence.


Prima facie absurdity of Premise 1


To begin, the premise requires that moral facts are objects. An item or attribute can be considered to have objective existence if and only if it “is something that presumably exists independent of the subject’s perception of it” (The Internet Dictionary of Philosophy via http://www.iep.utm.edu...).


This means Premise 1 requires that “moral facts,” being objective, would belong in the same category of existence as other objects. The following list typically identifies objects with objective existence:



  • They can be independently observed (given the physical proximity of the subject and object), meaning that the information about the objects can be transmitted to the subject via light waves, sound waves, odors, or pressure sensors. “Independently” means the results of observations are not dependent on the shared beliefs of the subjects of observation.

  • They have measurable physical characteristics, meaning that they can be described in terms of such qualities as mass, volume, temperature, molecular components, or informational configuration.


Such objects include animals and asteroids. They can be independently observed, and they have measurable physical characteristics.


If “moral facts” exist objectively, then “moral facts” likewise are expected to be capable of being independently observed and have measurable physical characteristics.


On the face, such qualities do not apply to “moral facts.” Therefore, Premise 1 is implausible.


Rebuttal 1 to “P1: Objective moral facts exist”


The above reasoning is a rebuttal to “P1: Objective moral facts exist.” Socialpinko claimed in his sub-argument that “There is no categorical difference between moral and sense perception.” However, my two listed points refute that assertion. Sense perception entails the capability of independent observation and measurable physical characteristics, and moral perceptions do not. Therefore, there is a significant categorical difference between moral and sense perception, and the sub-argument P1 fails from a false premise.


Alternative model: subjective morality


I propose, instead, that morality is subjective, meaning that morality is dependent on the beliefs of subjects. This follows from the prima facie nature of morality being a system of values. The moral system of values follows from human nature, culture and ideology, like all other subjective values of human society. The marketplace assigns monetary values to items at garage sales, and human society likewise assigns values to human actions. “Moral facts” are the subjective values of human actions. This model of morality is both coherent and probable on the face.


Analogy to value of money


A helpful analogy to this model of morality is the commonly-accepted model of the value of money. Everyone in society agrees that greenbacks (American paper currency) have a set of values. However, everyone accepts that this set of values is purely subjective. If almost everyone in society decided that greenbacks are worth only as much as any other rectangular paper sheets, then money would lose its value. The value of money is dependent on the beliefs of subjects, and that is what makes the value of money subjective.


I will end my turn here. Good luck to Socialpinko.


Debate Round No. 2
socialpinko

Pro

I thank my opponent for such a quick response and also apologize for such a late response on my part. Presumably, the rest of this debate will focus on the validity of my P1, that objective moral facts do exist.

Con's test for objective existence

To summarize, my opponent's test for objectiveness requires that 'objects' be able to be independently observed and have measurable physical characteristics. However, this test says nothing of the requirements of metaphysical existence, but seems to focus entirely on the requirements for epistemologically knowing of something's existence. Con's list of requirements says nothing of the actual characteristics needed for existence since it incorporates requirements such as measurability and observability.

Con's list of requirements is also flawed in that it proves too much. For Con's list to correctly identify the requirements for existence, it would necessarily send things such as mathematical and logical laws and other forms of a priori knowledge.

Laws- The Law of Identity

The law of identity states that any object N is necessarily the same as itself(N). Even though this law of logic cannot be independently observed except through it's interaction with other objects(Socrates is Socrates), however this is the same relationship which moral properties have with other objects(we can come to know murder is wrong through observing other objects murder). This law also has no measurable characteristics such as temperature or volume. However, no one could possibly argue that a "cogent theoretical model of existence"(in my opponent's words) would be possible without incorporating the law of identity. As I have shown, either Con's list of "objectivity" requirements is incomplete, or laws of logic and mathematics do not exist.

Subjective morality

While external forces such as culture and time do appear to influence the moral systems of people, this does not conclusively prove a subjective morality. The same can be applied to scientific beliefs. Just like we can know that the belief in the 1100's in a Earth-centered universe was false, so we can know whether a particular culture's belief in human sacrifice was wrong or not. Con's point about variability across cultures can be applied to any subset of knowledge. Also, Con's analogy to money while interesting proves little. I can provide my own analogy as well. Morality is like an apple. Whether one believes in it's existence or not, it continues to exist. The analogy provided by Con while explaining his reasoning, does not serve to prove anything.

I pass the debate back to ApostateAbe. Vote Con.
ApostateAbe

Con

This has been a wonderful debate. Shame there is only one more round after this.

Objections to my test

Socialpinko objects to my test for objective existence with two points:

(1) He points out that it is a test for knowledge of objective existence, not a test for objective existence.
(2) He points out that the test would require us to believe that such as mathematical and logical laws (such as the Law of Identity) do not objectively exist.

For the first point, I say that plausibility is a necessary criterion for deciding probability, and a test of plausibility necessarily requires patterns of observations.

For the second point, I say that the test holds true for merely most of the instances (I introduced the test with the word "typically"), and special exceptions require special reasons. Mathematics is based on basic rules of logic (http://plato.stanford.edu...), and basic logic is granted a special exception because it is the framework of everything objective--the physical universe. If entities are objective, then it follows that its framework is likewise objective, and that is why we would grant rules of logic special exception to my criteria.

If a proposed set of "moral facts" is objective, then it is another special exception, but does it likewise have a special reason? If so, then what is that special reason? If a poor special reason is given, then Premise 1 remains an implausible assertion.

Subjective morality

I claimed that the morality is closely analogous to other systems of values, and the model of subjective morality is both coherent and probable on the face. Socialpinko said in response that changing morality is not proof for subjective morality because the same can be said for scientific beliefs.

I say in response: scientific beliefs really are both changeable and subjective. This not nearly the same as saying that the targets of scientific inquiry (fixed in time and space) are either changeable or subjective. Socialpinko's reasoning is grossly muddled. He did not successfully address the prima facie claim that morality is closely analogous to other systems of values.

Argument concerning values

I proposed that a good analogy to morality is the value of money. Socialpinko said that this analogy does not prove anything. Yes, this was just a statement of an analogy, not an argument, though I was hoping that the argument can be inferred from the analogy. I will now turn this analogy into an explicit argument.

1) All systems of values are subjective.
2) Morality is a system of values concerning human actions.
3) Therefore, morality is subjective.

If Socialpinko disagrees with Premise 1, then he should explain why morality is a special exception to the otherwise-universal pattern that systems of values are subjective.

If he disagrees with Premise 2, then he should explain how morality is not a system of values.

If he agrees with the premises but not the conclusion, then he should explain how the deductive logic fails (see http://www.sjsu.edu...).

By the way, that argument is the reason why morality is not like an apple.

Challenge: make your own test

Since Socialpinko does not prefer my test for objectivity, then he should propose his own test. The test should be fair, and an independant thinker should be able to use this test in order to rank both apples and "moral facts" as objective but the value of money as subjective.

Since this next round will be his last, I will leave voters to judge whether or not this challenge is fulfilled. If Socialpinko does not fulfill this challenge, then it speaks to the incoherence of his premise that "Objective moral facts exist."
Debate Round No. 3
socialpinko

Pro

Con's test for objective existence

(1) Epistemology vs. Metaphysics of existence

On this point, my opponent has yet to show why the observation is a necessary quality of existence. He can claim that plausability is a necessary criterion for probability, but remember thar Con's list only mentioned the metaphysical requirements for existence, and never mentioned any sort of epistemological requirement. In his original list, the ability to be independently observed was cited as a metaphysical characteristic of existence, not a requrement for epistemological verification.

(2) Existence of mathematical and logical laws

My opponent's response to this point is that mathematical and logical laws are just exceptions to his list and that the list still holds true in most cases. Remember though that I have shown Con's list to be itself implausible as a measure of exitence since (a) it focuses too much on epistemological verification as opposed to ontological qualities necessary for actual existence and (b) the list itself leaves out the entire realms of logic and mathematics from existence. Con's list of requirements for existence is obviously flawed. I do not need a special exeption to Con's list because the list itself contains flaws on the requirements for existence.

Subjective morality

My opponent claims that scientific beliefs are changeable and subjective and that it is the targets of scientific inquiry that remain objective and independent. However, aren't the targets of moral inquiry likewise objective? You see a man being mugged in an alley. You believe the mugger is acting immorally. The act that you are observing is always objective, regardless of whatever opinion you come to on said act. Everything my opponent has claimed on scientific inquiry can also be applied to moral inquiry. My opponent has shown no discernible problem in my analogy of scientific to moral beliefs. They both change and vary across cultures and time, however there is always a right answer.

Argument concerning values

My opponent elaborates on his analogy to the subjectivity of money in the form of a syllogism. Here it is as follows:

1) All systems of values are subjective.
2) Morality is a system of values concerning human actions.
3) Therefore, morality is subjective.

Premise 2 of this argument is flawed. Morality in the form that I am arguing for is not a system of values but is a fact of reality. Something like killing is wrong not because it is valued by society or by a ruler to be wrong, but because of the non-natural facts of reality(namely the omni-benevolent nature of God which my opponent never mentions).

My own test

My opponent has asked me to create my own test for objective existence. However, my opponent provided his own test in repsonse to my claim of the prima facie justified existence of objective morality. A test of existence is not necessary for my premise to be valid, I must only disprove any arguments against the prima facie justification of objective morality. This stems from the nature of prima facie justification. Without evidence to the contrary, my premise is valid. Therefore, I must only disprove the evidence to the contrary. I have disproved my opponent's requirement for objective existence through it's internal flaws and inconsistencies(focusing on epistemological over metaphysical existence and leaving out such laws of reality is mathemtaics and logic).

Conclusion

I would have much liked this debate to span more than just P1of my actual argument for God's existence. However, such was my lot. Anyway, my opponent has not given readers or voters a valid reason to doubt the prima facie justification of objective morality. Therefore, without persuasive evidence to the contrary, it can be assumed to be valid. And since my argument was valid(meaning the conclusion flows logically from the premises) my argument is sound since no other premises were objected to by my opponent. I thank ApostasteAbe for this debate and wish him the best of luck in the voting period. Vote Pro.

ApostateAbe

Con

Summary of the debate and the failure of Premise 1.

Socialpinko's central argument in Round 2 depends on the strength of his premises, and it was his burden to show the probability of his premises, or else the argument fails. To reinforce Premise 1, Socialpinko argued under the heading, "P1: Objective moral facts exist," presuming that there "is no categorical difference between moral and sense perception." I challenged this premise, listing two points that typically characterize sense perception but not moral perception. Socialpinko responded by finding an exception to the general pattern: rules of logic. He did not demonstrate the probability of his own premise, but he challenged my proposed pattern by finding a special exception. Rules of logic can be given a special exception because it is part of the framework of all objective existence, but Socialpinko has not argued why morality should be given a similar special exception. On the contrary, Socialpinko has simply presumed it.

If he were to likewise argue that the value of money is objective, then the same arguments would carry the same weight. He may claim that "there is no categorical difference between money and sense perception." And, the position would carry a similar flaw: the value of money does not fit the near-universal patterns of objectivity, and there is no apparent reason why the value of money should be given a special exception.

Syllogism stands

I gave a deductive argument for the subjectivity of morals, and Socialpinko challenged the second premise ("Morality is a system of values concerning human actions"), not by arguing against it, but simply by contradicting it. I claim that the premise is a prima facie impression, because the seeming truth of the statement is seemingly self-evident, much like saying, "Apples are food." That isn't to say that it is therefore impossible that morality could be something other than a system of values concerning human actions, but it is the responsibility of the participant who disagrees with the prima facie impressions to provide sufficient reasoning to a non-prima-facie position, and Socialpinko has not done so. My argument stands, and morality is apparently subjective.

No alternative test

The prima facie disadvantage of Socialpinko's position is highlighted by his refusal to formulate his own better test of objective reality. Merely by finding a special exception to my test, he excludes any test for objective reality, and he hopes that his Premise 1 stands just because he says so.

Again, similar argumentation may be employed for the conclusion that the value of money is objective. Socialpinko would likewise point out the same inconsistency to the best test of objectivity, and he would likewise say, "Without evidence to the contrary, my premise is valid." Therefore, he would conclude, a one-dollar note is worth one dollar by its inherent objective nature.

Conclusion

I claim that a seemingly-improbable position should be defended with arguments better than pointing out an inconsistency of the best test that would seem to oppose the position.

Thank you, Socialpinko, for such a stimulating debate.
Debate Round No. 4
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by eugenelester 9 months ago
eugenelester
In my opinion, the best argument to prove the existence of God!
In the easy to understand format.

As a real fact, there are moral and ethical laws of behaviour among people.
Firstly these laws are absolute and objective.
And secondly: these laws are laws of behaviour which show us (people) how to behave, so these are laws of behaviour for rational creatures.
The fact that these laws are rules of behaviour for rational creatures and that they address to our mind means that they are established by a rational Creature, Individual.
The fact that these laws are objective and absolute for all people means that these are laws of nature, laws of universe arrangement.
But then who could invent such laws of behaviour that are objective and absolute and that are the part of universe arrangement? " Only the Highest Rational Being, a certain All-powerful Creature who invented the whole world, the Universe and all people.
To say in other words " the God Creator!

http://en.apologet.net...
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
socialpinko, congratulations on your win, you deserved it.
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
Grammar fail, sorry.

There are some grudges between bluesteel and I that linger from recent disputes, but I hope the personal attacks can remain implicit and passive-aggressive.
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
There are some grudges between bluesteel and that linger I from recent disputes, but I hope the personal attacks can remain implicit and passive-aggressive.
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
Comment battle: commence
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
Cool, thanks, bluesteel. I can tell you put a lot of thought into your vote. We have two different debating styles, and I think my style (focusing too much) really does put me at a disadvantage. You say that socialpinko "proves that mathematics can't be an 'exception.'" I think I missed that part. Please explain? Thanks.
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
RFD cont'd

I see many novices make this mistake - they engage one argument and get stuck arguing it the whole round. Their adrenaline surges and they forget to attack the weaker arguments.

social proves that mathematics can't be an "exception." You can't say that to exist you must have X and Y, but that certain things can also exist independent of X and Y as long as they also have a good enough reason for existing. That's logically incoherent.

Social's proof that science can be misinterpreted just like morals can be misinterpreted was also quite sound.

I would have liked to see a discussion about the brain and evolutionary psychologies role in morality, but alas , Apostate narrowed the debate to only one real objection to only Premise 1.
Posted by shift4101 5 years ago
shift4101
:D Yeah. Although socialpinko's argument prevailed admist your contentions, I really don't think the argument he used could have stood up to more tedious contention. You guys did seem to get a little bit off topic. (You started discussing the validity of an analogy?!)
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
Agreed with before the debate: socialpinko
Agreed with after the debate: Tied
Made more convincing arguments: socialpinko

:-P

Strange vote, but I like it anyway. If I win this debate, I will have to do another debate as part of the tournament, and I think I would rather take a break.
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
JustCallMeTarzan, I think that quote makes better sense in its proper context. He was trying to illustrate what he thought was the weakness of my claim that the morality is like the value of money.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
socialpinkoApostateAbeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Wow, just wow. Really well done socialpinko. You've become quite a formidable debater. Starting this, I fully expected to vote for ApostateAbe since I think the moral argument is supremely flawed. However, social defends it well. Also, ApostateAbe, true to form, gets sidetracked and only questions on premise and doesn't attack the two obviously weaker premises. Truly unfortunate. Apostate's 2 last rounds add nothing to his argument. I see many a novice debater get stuck into the first arg they m
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
socialpinkoApostateAbeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: The debate was about the nature and existence of "moral facts." The lack of examples ("thou shalt not steal.") led to a very obscure debate. It's about whether there are self-evident moral truths, as the D of I put it. I think Pro's arguments had the advantage, because Con seemed to be just asserting the contrary without offering enough contrary evidence. A close debate. I think Con might have won by attacking premise 3, but that wasn't the debate.
Vote Placed by Boogerdoctor 5 years ago
Boogerdoctor
socialpinkoApostateAbeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro was really unable to prove that objective moral facts actually exist. He did have the burden of proof. So I have to give the points to con, who made some find points of refutation
Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
socialpinkoApostateAbeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate felt a bit incomplete, with neither side providing much in the way of persuasion besides asserting the inherent obviousness of their position. Still, Con would have done well to spread his arguments around rather than focus on Pro's initial premise. With an agreed upon exception to Con's existence test comes room for doubt. Arguments to Pro.
Vote Placed by logicrules 5 years ago
logicrules
socialpinkoApostateAbeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's opening syllogism is flawed, first minor premise is misplaced and second minor premise contradicts second. The category is religion, meaning application of an operant theology. Neither understanding of morality, nor explanation is cogent. Due to he flawed syllogism and failure to cogently delineate morals Pro loses, though con was not much better.
Vote Placed by shift4101 5 years ago
shift4101
socialpinkoApostateAbeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: To me, this debate seemed riddled with unexplained assumptions. The whole debate pended on the viability of the "prima facie" argument by Pro, which I didn't find too reliable, but an argument none the less. Con asserted his two points for objectivity, Pro challenged the assertion using logic as a counter-example. Con said his two points only typically applied, and such counter examples didn't harm the two points. But morality would obviously be another counter-example. So I now vote Pro.