The "one god further" objection is fallacious
Debate Rounds (4)
So, these are the rules:
48 hours to debate
1st round- I write rules, you make your argument. You can argue by explaining why the objection works...at least to an extent (you need not hold that it is air-tight and fool-proof)
2nd round- Responses
3rd round- More Responses
4th round- Closing Statements
Please no forfeits. If you are too busy to respond, simply write "too busy"
We are arguing whether or not the "one god further" objection to religion and the existence of God is a good objection.
It is primarily an atheist argument.
I think that the argument proves nothing. This is the side I will be defending
With this in mind, I feel that you have misinterpreted the "one god further" notion. It does not object to religion or object to the existence of God. It only poses the argument that the existence of a God is very unlikely:
Of all the thousands upon thousands of God's that man have created since the dawn, what makes the Christian God the right one? (example). A Christian is brought up a Christian by sheer chance. If they were brought up in India they wouldn't believe in that God. If they were brought up in Ancient Greece they would believe in Zeus and Apollo. If they were brought up in the time of the Vikings they would believe in Thor and Wotan. Today Christians or any other religions discount every other God apart from the one they believe in so they are therefore atheist to 99.9% of Gods but why is their God the right one? Atheists just therefore go one God further. In a nutshell, thousands of God's have existed with man and there are two possibilities.
1. That one exists.
2. That none exist.
Which one do you think is more likely given the thousands of Gods in question here? This is the point that the "One God further" notion makes, that put in to perspective, the existence of a God is extremely unlikely.
I therefore feel that it is indeed a good argument as it uses rational thinking to pose a point that undoubtedly makes sense. It does not prove that God does not exist but it proves that the chances of a God existing are slim.
Thankyou for accepting the debate challenge. I understand that this isn't an argument in the same way others are---that is---it is not deductive proof against God. It is more an argument that casts doubt on theism. However, I think that it is flawed because it misunderstands theism at the heart.
I will break down the problems now.
I. The question of God
The proper approach to the existence of God is not to come up with some prior notion of what it means to be God and see if that being exists. The proper approach is a reasoning from the effect (universe) to understanding the nature of the cause. Once we understand this cause, we understand God. We cannot say that we have some special prior knowledge because this is dishonest unless there is good reason to define God in some specific way.
II. The question of revelation
Lets assume that this God is personal (for the sake of argument) in that He has intellect and will and the power to reveal Himself and things about reality to man. This is a separate question from the existence of God, even if a personal creator does exist, it does not follow that any revelation MUST exist. Also, even if it does exist, exactly HOW God has revealed Himself would be a separate question.
III. The Question of the Preternatural
The question of the preternatural is whether or not there are beings or a being that is some form of life or personality that is above humans in the sense of power or wisdom and involvement in the beginning or creation of the universe. The question of higher beings does not necessarily mean God in the traditional sense. A simple illustration can make that point: Suppose we found out that there were aliens a lot like the gods of ancient Greece. They fought, had an important explanatory role in the lives of human beings, they got angry, jealous, had affairs, murdered, etc. They were extremely powerful and far more wise than humans. They existed on another planet rather than on earth. Would this cause atheists to admit they were wrong? No probably not---that is because these aren't really gods but simply higher beings---which many atheists---and even theists would admit might exist---either in another planet or another universe altogether. The exact nature of these beings might be debatable, and we may never know, but the point is that they are not really gods but preternatural creatures of some sort.
Now on to the crux of the argument. The point of this argument is to show that since we are dismissing many entities in a class of beings, we might as well dismiss all of them. Why only belive in one? It is also meant to show that many of these beings fall out of favor over time, so why would ours stand the test of time when it is almost certain that it too will fail? It is not deductive proof but meant to cast doubt.
The problem with this is that it misunderstands theism.
First, as point I made clear, we arrive (or attempt to arrive---this isn't a debate about God's existence) to an ultimate explanation or existence of some sort of creator/supernatural being using reason about the natural world. Second, as made clear in point II, many specific qualites of this being or the poionts of how that being(s) interacts with the world is a separate question of what we call revelation, or what God has revealed to man. I can exist without II but II can't exist without I. They are entirely different questions in reality. II presupposes I but still, they are categorically different.
So we have enough background information to see why the argument is fallacious.
1) With respect to pagan gods and the like
With respect to pagan gods and greek gods, that kind of thing, the flaw is that we are equating those beings with the God of montheism simply because of the name "god."
The problem is that dismissal of one does not imply the acceptance or dismisal of another. There is a complete category mistake here. As point III above made clear, with gods of ancient greece we are talking about the preternatural more powerful beings. Now, among this class of being, it is reasonable to say that dismissing all but one seems a little shaky. It is like saying "I only believe in one alien and that is all...the possibility of others is absurd." Or saying "even though all unprovable spirits have fallen out of favor, mine has not." we see the problem and why the one god further objection would have force.
However I argue that it does not have force becasue what is meant by God in the monotheistic and more specifically, classical theistic tradition, is not hte same as what is meant by the gods of these pagan religions. Even though they share the same name, it is a category mistake to lump them together. To the classical theistic tradition, God is an ultimate reality and the explanation of all things...the being of infinte everything who's essence is simple and is His existence. We are not talking about the greater than human type creatures, but an ultimate, almost undefinable reality. You obviously don't accept this as TRUE, but you should see why the one god further objection loses its force because it is not even comprable to the other beings. In fact, according to the arguments of classical theism, this God is perfectly compatible with the existence of other greater-than-man preternatural beings including "gods" (not really god in the sense of classical theism but in the sense of the pagans), angels, and aliens. However, they would not be God in the same sense and in the meaningful sense.
Once we understand this, we can understand how lumping them together is problematic. The gods of pagan religions are basically like aliens as I explained. Sure there are differences, but the basic concept of a greater-than-man but similar being is upheld. So, to dismiss the God of classical theism because it is really just one step further than the gods of paganism or because those have been shown to be false is like saying "I dismiss God because aliens are not real or because why not go one being further, if aliens don't exist, we might as well not believe in God" Obviously you recognize the flaw in this...it is that God is an entirely different question than aliens. So it is with God and gods. Sharing the same name is a mistake. The God of classical theism is not even comprable than the gods of ancient religions because He is an explanatory ultimate reality, not just a greater-than man being.
1) With respect to other monothestic religions.
So lets say the objection has no force with regards to ancient Greece or Egypt, but does it among followers of classical monotheism? Say can one accept the God of Chrsitianity but not of Islam. Well, insofar as the God of monotheism is the God of classical theism, that is, an explanatory ultimate reality, infinite source of being, etc., then they are the same God--either in the scriptures, philosophies, or minds of the followers of these religions. So it is not as though a Christan accepts the God of Christians but not the God of Islam. We are dealing with a different question. As I alluded to above, this is a quesiton of revelation. Has God revealed Himself through the Koran or through Jesus? Is Jesus God's Son or is He not? Did Jesus rise? Did He establish a church? These are questions of revelation but NOT of "does god exist" or going one god further.
Now, to use the one god further objection against revelation has more force than it does against theism. However, it still commits the genetic fallacy pretty much. It also can be answered using different theologies. But EVEN IF it was effective at showing revelation to be dubious or false, what would follow? Since it would be directed at revelation and not theism per se, it would show that revelation is meaningless and specific religions are just man's conjectures. However, it would NOT prove that belief in God is false. The proper response (assuming that there were indenedent and reasonable reasons to believe in God of classical theism) would be to believe in the God of monotheism but to reject supernatural revelation.
I. The question of God:
You say that "the proper approach to the existence of God is not to come up with some prior notion of what it means to be God and see if that being exists." I feel this is more of an excuse rather than a means of argument. I don't see how the "One God further" notion is invalid here as you are saying. Through the use of rational and logical thinking it derives FACTS such as the FACT that thousands of God's have existed with mankind since the dawn of time, the FACT that a Christian is brought up a Christian by sheer chance (example). The FACT that if a person was brought up in Ancient Greece or the time of the Vikings they wouldn't believe in God or Allah etc. The FACT that Christians or any other religions discount every other God apart from the one they believe in. The "one God further" notion uses these facts to then come up with a logical and rational opinion and how can you argue with facts, rationality and logicality? I feel that all your talk about the "proper approach"is then invalid as surely facts, rationality and logic is as good an approach as any.
II. The question of revelation:
I'm sorry but I do not see how any of what you say under this heading is relevant to the topic. The topic is "The one God further object is fallacious" not "does a revelation have to exist". Please I ask you to not wander off from the topic at hand.
III. The Question of the Preternatural:
Again I feel this is also irrelevant as it seems you are making an argument for the existence of God or a higher being rather than arguing why you think The "one god further" objection is fallacious. The Question of the Preternatural is a different topic entirely and holds no relevance with this topic.
You say that the problem with the argument is that it misunderstands theism but how is this so? Modern believers only believe in One God so they therefore discount every other God. That is a fact and cannot be argued against. So therefore the argument is using this fact to propose an opinion. How can it misunderstand theism when it just carries over the facts from theism?
"1) With respect to pagan gods and the like"
"With respect to pagan gods and Greek gods, that kind of thing, the flaw is that we are equating those beings with the God of monotheism simply because of the name "god."
Are you saying that those "Gods" are somehow more flawed then the "Gods" that are believed in today? Why do you have a better reasoning to believe in a god than the Ancient Greeks? There is just as little evidence for one as the other. At the end of the day they are indeed all proposed Gods so therefore why should "the one god further" objection have to cherry pick which Gods it talks about? It is all the same idea.
"The problem is that dismissal of one does not imply the acceptance or dismissal of another."
The only reason a Muslim believes in Allah or a Christian believes in that God is because that is the culture in which they grew up in so they discount every other God because that is not what they are taught to believe in. On the contrary the atheist stand i.e.. the one God further objection looks at all "Gods" collectively and concludes that the existence of one is very unlikely based on facts.
You say that it is a category mistake to lump the pagan Gods and the monotheistic Gods together but why? They are both the same principle so why should they be treated differently? I therefore don't see why the one god further objection is fallacious because I don't see any good reason why I should hold the modern theistic gods in a higher league than the rest. If there is just as little evidence for both types then surely they should be grouped in the exact same way.
I fail to see why the gods of pagan religions are basically aliens. They are a belief in a higher being/beings so they are the exact same principle as the God of classical theism, just that people believed in more than one. Also no Gods have been shown to be true or false, they are just not believed in anymore. The people believed in them at the time the very same way that you believe in God at this time so why is your belief better than theirs? In thousands of years people might not believe in anything so your beliefs could easily be seen as what we now see the Ancient Greek belief system. It is the exact same principle. Again, the one god further objection sees all the gods as equally grouped, and rightly so.
Again, you say that "The God of classical theism is not even comparable than the gods of ancient religions because he is an explanatory ultimate reality, not just a greater-than man being."
He is a man-made superstition like the others. The fact that the god of classical theism is seen as an explanatory ultimate reality does not make any difference to it. Just because there is more elaboration on him, how does that make him any more true than Zeus or Apollo?
I do not feel as if I need to respond to the rest of your response as I would be repeating myself. To reiterate my reoccurring point, the one god further objection does not disprove the existence of God, it merely looks at the facts of belief and comes up with a rational opinion based on them. A fallacy is an argument that uses poor reasoning so how can anyone say that coming up with a rational, logical view based on facts is a fallacy? It classifies all "Gods" in the same category because that's what they all are, "Gods" based on superstitious belief with no evidence. I remind you that the title of the debate is "The "one god further" objection is fallacious", not "The classical theistic one god further objection is fallacious". So we are talking about "Gods" in general.
First off, with regards to how we arrive at knowledge of God, this matters because if we arrive at the knowledge of one and not the other through a rational process, it follows that one and not the other exists EVEN IF this involves dismissing many "gods."
Second, the question of revelation is relevant because often what is meant by "one god further" really means "another revelation." See, take Islam and Christianity for instance. These are not different gods but different religions. The difference in religion is based off of what is counted as the body of God's revelation.
Third, the preternatural is relevant because certain things marked with the word "god" are really not the same as the type of being called "God." This isn't about word-games, who's god is better, or which is more rational. It is about how despite the fact that these beings all share the same name, they are actually entirely different. This difference is not merely in degree but in type. Because of this, the objection is comparing apples and oranges.
The main thrust of my argument is threefold:
1) When the one god further objection is used to apply to pagans, it is fallacious because it compares the God of classical theism to the gods of ancient pagans. The flaw is not just that God is better than the gods but that they are entirely unrelated and different types of beings to begin with, therefore, the existence of one does not effect the existence of the other. Maybe a deeper knowledge of classical theism would be helpful although I do not have the time or the space for that. The point is that if God is meant as the ultimate reality of all things and the gods of ancient Greece or something are basically aliens or superheroes, how can we really say if you deny one you must deny the other?
2) With regards to different religions that all believe in basically the same idea of "God." the problem is that it isn't as though one person is rejecting the "Christian God" while accepting the "Muslim God" they are really accepting the existence of God but one revelation over another
3) With regards to the difference of revelation, the argument might have some ability. Change it to "one revelation further" but I think it is at best an argument that casts doubt on revelation itself but not the existence of God and at worse it is just a failed attempt to disprove religion. It certainly does run the risk of committing the genetic fallacy, that is for sure.
"if we arrive at the knowledge of one and not the other through a rational process, it follows that one and not the other exists EVEN IF this involves dismissing many "gods."
Only believers follow the notion of dismissing other Gods because they have knowledge about their own. People can dismiss Gods but they can't say for definite that they don't exist and that their God definitely does exist. Therefore it is not valid to say that one exists over the rest because there is more knowledge about that one.
Since when did the one god further notion mean one revelation further? It means what it says, "one GOD further", whether it's gods in relation to Thor, Zeus, Allah, Christian God etc. It is a very simple objection and if it was talking about revelation then the word revelation would be used. I feel as if you altering it from the black and white statement that it actually is. It has nothing to say about religion, just believed Gods.
In relation to your preternatural point, what I want to know is what exactly makes all the "Gods" so different? I argue that because they are all the same principle and the fact that there is as little evidence for one as there is for other, then why shouldn't they be grouped together?
Likewise with your pagan gods point, how are they so unrelated? Zeus was seen as a higher being, God is seen as a higher being. You have misunderstood the objection at hand here. It is not at all saying that if you deny one you must deny the others, it is saying that people discount all the thousands of "Gods" that have existed over the years (which is a fact and can't be argued against) atheists therefore just go one God further. Everything about the argument is true.
"With regards to different religions that all believe in basically the same idea of "God." the problem is that it isn't as though one person is rejecting the "Christian God" while accepting the "Muslim God" they are really accepting the existence of God but one revelation over another".
If a Muslim is accepting the existence of God just one revelation over another then they are still discounting the Christian God, no matter what way you look at it. Both Gods spawn from different religions therefore the idea of accepting one revelation over another doesn't matter as it is same as accepting a different God.
Again the one God further notion does not attempt to disprove religion, it is saying that modern believers are almost as atheist as atheists because they discount 99.99% of "gods", therefore it is unlikely that only one God exists out of thousands. It is much more likely that none exist. This is a point with good reasoning so it certainly does not run the risk of committing the genetic fallacy. To say that the old "Gods" don't compare to modern "Gods" despite there being equally as little evidence for both is much more of a fallacy.
The point of my argument is that the one god further objection is not an objection at all because there is no such thing as going one god further.
You have to understand that just because something is termed "god" does not make it the same type of being. Now, this does not mean one version of the thing called god is better than another, it just means they are different in category and therefore cannot be compared and the existence of one does not effect the other.
Now, to your points:
1) "dismissing other Gods because they have knowledge of their own"
-This isn't about knowledge in the sense you seem to be using it. IF I come to the conclusion via say philosophy that some ultimate being exists with certain traits, but certain other beings I have not concluded exist, there is no flaw in this reasoning. I have knowledge of one because I think there are good arguments for one. Its like I think that humans exist but not bigfoot. Same basic idea
2) The one god further objection involves one revelation further as I have tried to point out because there is no difference between the God of certain religions, like Christian and Muslim. Sure they have different traits (e.g. Trinity vs no Trinity) but the essential "God" of each religion is exactly the same being, namely the God of classical theism. Therefore, if I dismiss Islam, I am not dismissing the God of Islam, rather, I accept the God of Islam but REJECT the revelation of the Koran because I do not think that God has revealed Himself in that manner. That is how revelation is relevant to the debate. It also shows that the OGF objection is fallacious because no one is going a God further but only choosing between revelations
3) The preternatural point is this: There are many possible beings that exist with certain "powers" and things that are above human nature. For example, aliens, the gods of ancient religions, possibly monsters or ghosts, angels, and the like. Not that these exist, but they are logically coherent entities. The non-existence of some does not necessarily imply the non-existence of another. The reason is that they are different beings. Further, with respect to the God of classical theism, they are in an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT CATEGORY. Its like saying "well unicorns don't exist, therefore other solar systems don't" its totally irrelevant and a non-sequiter. You ask what the difference is. I have said that I do not have a ton of space to explain this and defend it but only summarize. I think my summary proves that there is enough substantial and relevant difference to show that God of classical theism is not just in the same category as say the gods of Egypt.
The God classical theism is described as the ultimate reality of existence. God is pure spirit, eternal, infinite, powerful, personal, simple, perfect, etc. This being is not a being that just happens to exist, but one that is the ultimate explanation of existence. It has no potencies that need to be actualized because it is pure act, it has no essence that needs to be joined to an act of existence because its very essence is existence. This being is not composed of parts therefore does not need to be assembled. This being has something analogous to intellect and will that are in us. This being is the foundation of being and the definition of goodness. It is the source of all reality at every instance. This type of being is the ultimate explanation and can be demonstrated using sound metaphysical proofs. On the other hand, ancient pagan gods are just elevated humans. Contrary to being ultimate explanations, they need an explanation. They are not necessary beings, they can be both good and evil, they have certain abilities and not others, their essence is not the same as their existence, they are limited by their natures. You see, these beings have a lot more in common with humans than with the God of classical theism
4) The OGF objection attempts to show how everyone at some level is an atheist with respect to some gods. But the problem with this idea is that some people are not atheists with respect to God. They may disbelieve in gods of ancient Greece, but this has no bearing on the question of God's existence or which revelation He has given. It is comparing apples to oranges and fails to show anything meaningful
"I have knowledge of one because I think there are good arguments for one."
Don't tell me that there is good arguments for the existence of one God over another, you most likely only believe because either you want to believe or that is the way in which you were brought up.
"there is no difference between the God of certain religions, like Christian and Muslim."
The identity of God is extremely different for a Muslim versus a Christian. According to the principle of non-contradiction, Jesus Christ is either God, or He isn't. He cannot be both. Since Muslims and Christians differ on this most fundamental theological point, they do not believe in the same God. As well, both the Muslim and Christian theology demonstrate that their believers follow a different God, as the divine natures, as set forth by each religion's believers, are different. At most, one can say both religion are monotheistic in belief, but that is all. YOU may accept the God of Islam but Christianity doesn't. This disproves that the OGF objection is fallacious because people then are indeed going one God further. However even if it was fallacious(which it isn't) then you still discredit roughly 99% of "Gods" that have ever existed which would mean that atheists are going 2 gods further, which is the same principle. No matter what way you look at it you are still discrediting about a thousand Gods, which is the point of the OGF objection.
In relation to your preternatural paragraph, you keep saying that the non-existence of some does not necessarily imply the non-existence of another. If there is equally no evidence for The Christian God or Thor then why should I believe in the Christian God over Thor? You say that Its like saying that unicorns don't exist, therefore other solar systems don't but on the contrary it's like you are saying that out of unicorns or fairies, unicorns exist. There is no logical reason to assume that unicorns (pagan Gods) exist over fairies (Modern theistic Gods) therefore why wouldn't they be in the same category?
You say that God is the ultimate explanation of beings, yet this explanation stems from mans want to fill scientific gaps. Just because the Ancient Greek Gods didn't have an elaborate story attached to them doesn't mean that they are any less likely to exist than lets say the Christian God. You can't say that just because more effort went in to the idea of the Christian God than Zeus, that that God is any more likely to be real.
You're right the one god further objection attempts to show the FACT that everyone at some level is an atheist with respect to some gods and I feel it greatly succeeds. It does not attempt to disprove God's existence, it shows that the likeliness of one God's existence over thousands is very very slim. It is not comparing apples to oranges it is comparing lack of evidence to lack of evidence and proposes the notion that such existence is unlikely, and it draws this proposal from facts.
Thank you for the debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by funwiththoughts 3 years ago
|Agreed with before the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Agreed with after the debate:||-||-||0 points|
|Who had better conduct:||-||-||1 point|
|Had better spelling and grammar:||-||-||1 point|
|Made more convincing arguments:||-||-||3 points|
|Used the most reliable sources:||-||-||2 points|
|Total points awarded:||4||0|
Reasons for voting decision: Con never really adressed pro's arguments instead stubbornly insisting that the two are the same but not actually saying why Pro's distinctions were irrelevant. Giving conduct to Pro because I felt it was quite rude of Con to tell Pro why he believes before Pro had even stated any reasoning for arguments (I'm an atheist myself but I'm mature enough to handle that some people look at things from another perspective).
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.