Theism (Pro) vs. Naturalism (Con)
Hello. This debate began in reaction to Varrack switching from a theist to an agnostic. While this debate is written to a general audience, I hope that he will reconsider his switch.
1. By "theism," I mean the belief in the existence of God, the all-knowing and all powerful creator of the universe.
Con may post his two advisers in this round, Round 1.
I was originally going to have four arguments for the existence of God, but time and space restraints force me to rely on three. A great argument in favor of the existence of God is the detailed, fulfilled prophecy held in the pages of the Bible. While many Biblical prophecies exist, we will deal with two in this debate. The other argument will be the resurrection of Christ.
Cyrus the Great
Consider this syllogism:
P1. If Isaiah the prophet accurately prophesied an event so precisely that it had to have been done supernaturally, then theism is much more reasonable than naturalism.
P2. Isaiah the prophet accurately prophesied an event so precisely that it had to have been done supernaturally.
C. Therefore, theism is much more reasonable than naturalism.
Isaiah claimed to have been inspired by God and credits his prophecies to Him (Isa. 45:1; 1:1–2; etc.). If Isaiah was able to demonstrate supernatural inspiration, then it would be unreasonable to deny that God exists. The major (first) premise of the above syllogism, therefore, is shown to be correct. Therefore if the minor (second) premise can be shown to be true, then the conclusion must be true, as the syllogism is valid (i.e., constructed in such a way so that if the major and minor premises are true, the conclusion must also be true). Let us consider the second premise, then.
Isaiah, speaking with such certainty as if the event already happened (a prophetic style known as the prophetic perfect tense), prophecies by name that a certain Cyrus would “subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut” (Isa. 45:1). God emphasizes how He is calling Cyrus by name in verses 3–4, and says that He is making Cyrus mighty even though he wouldn’t at the time know Him (vv. 4–5). It is also said that Cyrus would have the temple rebuilt (44:28). The book says to be “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah” (1:1, emphasis added), placing the vision anywhere between 788–687 B.C. At least 148 years later, in 539 B.C., all this came to pass! A mighty man named Cyrus the Great ended up taking Babylon and freed the Jews, permitting them to rebuild the temple. This is an amazing prophecy!
If my opponent chooses to answer this point by using the Deutero-Isaiah or Trito-Isaiah theory, then the burden of proof lies on his shoulders to support it, as such a change in view of the authorship was not significantly held until the 18th century A.D.—approximately 25 centuries after the writing of Isaiah! To put this in perspective, the Founding Fathers of the United States, who lived in almost an entirely different world, signed the Declaration of Independence less than 2½ centuries ago! What reason(s) can be given to suddenly change what’s been understood for 25 centuries?
The major and minor premises are shown to be true, and thus the conclusion is as well.
The Ram and the Goat
P1. If Daniel the prophet accurately prophesied an event so precisely that it had to have been done supernaturally, then theism is much more reasonable than naturalism.
P2. Daniel the prophet accurately prophesied an event so precisely that it had to have been done supernaturally.
C. Therefore, theism is much more reasonable than naturalism.
Daniel was clearly a theist and praised God as One who “reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him” (Dan. 2:22). I don’t think this would be in dispute. Therefore, the major premise is shown to be correct. The eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel speaks of a vision that happened “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar” (v.1), or about 553 B.C. In the vision, Daniel sees a ram with two horns, the higher one being the horn that came up after the first one (v. 3). The ram became great, “pushing westward, northward, and southward, so that no animal could withstand him; nor was there any that could deliver from his hand” (v. 4). Then, a billy goat suddenly appeared coming “from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes” (v. 5). The goat charged toward the ram “with furious power” and broke the ram’s two horns (vv. 6–7). The goat was so powerful that no one would be able to stop it from killing the ram (v. 7). The goat continued to grow in strength; eventually, its horn broke and was replaced with four other horns (v. 8). The story continues in verses 9–14.
This is a very intriguing prophecy, and interpreting it may seem difficult. Fortunately, we don’t have to just guess its meaning: Daniel himself “was seeking the meaning” of the vision when suddenly someone “having the appearance of a man,” Gabriel, was told to reveal its meaning (vv. 15–16). The ram with two horns is said to represent “the kings of Media and Persia” (v. 20), while the goat represents “the kingdom of Greece” (v. 21). And that notable horn that broke and was replaced with four horns? This is symbolic for Greece diverging into four kingdoms (v. 22). There are more details that could be given regarding this prophecy, but the material presented should be sufficient for this debate.
Like with Isaiah’s prophecy, Daniel’s vision also came to pass. Cyrus the Great (mentioned earlier), king of Persia, defeated Media, combining it with Persia. Yet, this Medo-Persian empire was defeated by Alexander the Great, of Greece, in 331 B.C. Later, Alexander the Great died, and Greece diverged "into four major powers." This means that Daniel was foretold not only that the Medo-Persian empire would fall 220 years before it happened but also who would cause its fall—Greece! And not only that: He was foretold that Greece would diverge into four!
If Con should claim that the Book of Daniel was written in the 2nd century B.C., the burden of proof is on him, because the vision dates itself to “the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar” (8:1), or the 6th century B.C. The view that the Book of Daniel was a forgery written in the 2nd century B.C. was not held until Porphyry concocted it in the 3rd [or early 4th?] century A.D.
Both premises are shown to be true; thus, the conclusion is true.
If the resurrection of Jesus the Christ can be verified, then that would strike a huge blow against naturalism:
P1. If Jesus’ resurrection happened, then theism is more reasonable then naturalism.
P2. Jesus’ resurrection happened.
C. Therefore, theism is more reasonable than naturalism.
According to the gospels, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (Matt. 16:13–17; Mark 14:61–62; Luke 2:49; John 56:43; etc.). One convincing way He could show this is if He could resurrect from the dead, obviously. Furthermore, this would be supernatural, and thus would defy naturalism, because it violates the Law of biogenesis (i.e., that life cannot come from inorganic matter—which Jesus’ corpse would have to be after death). The major premise is correct.
Now for the minor premise. Paul the apostle, who was previously zealous toward Judaism and opposed to Christianity, reports that he himself became a Christian, saying that it was because he saw Jesus appear to him (Gal. 1:13–24). In one of his epistles to the Corinthians, he writes: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:3–8). The epistle is believed to date to ca. 53–54 A.D. If we interpret Paul saying he “received” this message to mean he received it by God, this would date to no longer than 20 years after Jesus’ crucifixion, as it certainly couldn’t have been after he wrote the epistle that he received this. However, scholars claim that Paul “received” verses 3–7 as a written statement from others about 5 years after Jesus’ death.
Either way, I think it is clear that this and other facts need to be explained. How was Jesus seen by the twelve? How was He seen by 500 people? How was He seen by the apostle Paul in such a convincing way that Christians could say of him, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Gal. 1:23)? What theories can account for these and everything else we know other than the view that Jesus did, in fact resurrect from the dead? Con will need to provide a satisfactory, more convincing explanation in order for the resurrection argument to be rendered unsound.
I would like to thank Kilk1, Donald.keller, Wylted, Fkkize, and Tejretics for contributing to this debate. I am only going to present one argument, but don’t worry because I’m going in-depth with arguing for this one.
The Cosmological Argument
What I'm going to try to show in this argument that the universe couldn't have had a creator. I argue that we can come to this conclusion by the nature of the universe itself and by the nature of the proposed creator.
P1: If God exists, then the universe was created.
P2: The universe wasn’t created.
C: God doesn’t exist.
Premise one is clear, God is defined as the creator of the universe. If the universe couldn’t have been created, then God doesn’t exist. I will now give 4 reasons to accept the truth of premise 2.
In order to be the creator of the universe one must exist prior -I mean prior in some reference point, allowing for relativity and retrocausality- to the universe. For example, I didn't create the universe because the universe existed prior to myself. Nor could I have created something if I existed at the same time with it. If I was an eternal being I couldn't have caused something else that was eternal, because there would be no time where that entity didn't exist therefore there couldn’t have been any time for me to bring that entity into existence. What I am saying here is we must investigate whether it makes sense to say that one can be prior to the universe.
If we are to assume that time didn't have a beginning then we couldn't claim that there is a creator because the universe could have always existed (and P2 is affirmed). However does a beginning of time really makes sense? In order to cause something one must have to exist prior to it, but prior is a temporal concept. So without time there can be no prior and without time there can be no cause. Therefore it doesn't make much sense to claim that anything could have caused the universe because causes are temporal.
Of course many are tempted here to appeal to simultaneous causation. But, there are two distinct concepts of simultaneous causation. One being that something simultaneously causing something timelessly. For example, a ball resting on a sheet for all of eternity, the cause and effect exist at the same time. The problem here is quite clear, it doesn't deal with an entity bringing another entity into existence. Just how an entity can depend on another. The second concept is simultaneous in the temporal sense. This makes no sense either because simultaneous is a temporal concept. It would presume facts about time to explain facts about time.
Furthermore, even if SC made sense, why should we prefer a theistic concept of it? It is simpler to cut God out of it and claim simultaneous causation in a self-contained sense. Particle A causes particle B at the same time as particle B causes particle A.
According to modern science it doesn't appear that the universe could have been caused. Quantum physics and special relativity implies a theory of time called Eternalism. This is a theory of time where all states of time have existed eternally . As arguably the most famous contemporary Christian philosopher William Lane Craig puts it
“On a B-Theory of time, the universe does not in fact come into being or become actual at the Big Bang; it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block that is finitely extended in the earlier than direction. If time is tenseless, then the universe never really comes into being, and, therefore, the quest for a cause of its coming into being is misconceived.” 
Basically, eternalism claims that all states of time exist. The future and past exist just as must as the present exists. Time would be analogous to space, the past would be before this moment and the future would be after this moment. When thinking about the “beginning” of the universe, the big bang would’ve been inch one on a ruler, not the cause of the ruler. Or like a movie reel, the reel itself doesn’t begin to exist when the intro of the movie starts.
This theory is confirmed by equations in special relativity, as time can dilate depending on how fast you are moving or how close you are to a gravitational body . Time dilation has been observed in Muons, when they are moving time slows for them relative to our clocks on Earth . Quantum entanglement has also shown to be able to entangle particles throughout time . An even more mind bending experiment shows that time is emergent from the universe. A “God-like” observer would view all states of time . Therefore, there can be no creator of the universe, because all states of time exist eternally.
There are two other reasons to believe that there can be no creator of the universe, because the very nature of the creator contradicts this notion.
I believe this is only the third time I’ve presented this argument. This argument is somewhat original, it borrows some of its concepts from Prof. David Kyle Johnson’s explanation of the foreknowledge/free will problem and I have reformulated it to work as an argument against God’s existence.
God has all knowledge. He has total knowledge of the past, present and future. From this we can conclude that these states of time exist. Why? Because in order to know something, that thing must exist. It is impossible for the opposite to be true. I cannot know something that doesn’t exist. For example, I can’t know that Jerry Fodor was president, because such a thing is false. Although what “knowledge” actually is has spawned debate among philosophers, it is clear that it must contain true belief. If I believed something false, then I would be wrong. Just like if God knew the future when it doesn’t exist, then he would be wrong because nothing makes his knowledge true. Something must exist which makes God’s knowledge true. What could do this? The only candidate there can be is the future event itself. How else can we link the event to God’s knowledge?
This entails that the past, present and future must exist. We now see that this entails an eternalist ontology of time. Before the universe, God knew all and therefore knew the future. This is a contradiction, because before the universe, the future of it must have already existed. Therefore, there couldn’t have been a “before” the universe. Therefore, the second premise is vindicated.
If God is to be a cause of time, he must be timeless. However, there is a serious problem with God being timeless and interacting with temporal events. We can think of God’s existence in terms of numbers. A number like “1” can be thought of as spaceless and timeless. It makes no sense to claim the number “1” doesn’t exist in the Andromeda galaxy, nor does it make sense to claim the number “1” came into existence a few years ago.
To understand the nature of a timeless and spaceless entity we can inspect the nature of numbers. We quickly see that numbers cannot cause anything within time. If I eat one pie, the number “1” doesn't cause me to eat the pie. When going 10mph, the number 10 isn’t causing my speed. Numbers are always the same, regardless if I eat one pie or am stationary. It isn’t different before or after these events and therefore cannot explain these events. To cause something, one must act at the right time. However, since God, like numbers is always the same before and after events, he cannot exert any force to cause something at the right time. Preventing him from being a creator of time or events within time.
My argument above presents a powerful argument against theism. Looking at this from an abductive standpoint, we can tie this up and show why theism is unlikely and why my position is more likely. Abductive reasoning is inference to the best explanation usually following the 5 criteria of testability (Can x be tested?), fruitfulness (Does x pass such tests?), scope (How much can x explain? Does it answer more questions than it raises?) , simplicity (Does x have as few assumptions as possible), and conservatism (Does x fit with our background knowledge?) .
Testability and fruitfulness
God clearly cannot be tested as he falls outside the realm of testable physical entities. This makes it a little harder to accept, but maybe not too much as one possibly could argue for philosophical testability and fruitfulness. Which is a part of what this debate is about.
God is invoked to answer questions about the universe, but it does raise many more questions. What is the nature of God? How can we know the nature of God? Why does God do what he does? What concept of God is correct? Does he care about us? Why should he care about us? How can temporal, spatial beings understand the nature of God? How did God create the universe?
Just look at the nature of Theology to see how many questions have been spawned and the debate among theologians. Proposing an amazing complex being presents so many questions. It is much like proposing a bridge collapse can be explained by an incomprehensible being using an incomprehensible force to collapse the bridge. The naturalistic explanations I have proposed don’t raise as many questions as God does.
If we are to accept the existence of God, we must accept that there is another realm of being outside of what we already know. It has to adopt unnecessary ways of explaining the beginning of the universe which can already be explained without appealing to another realm of being.
As shown above, the nature of God contradicts what we think about causality and physics.
The claim that God exists runs contrary to our abductive reasoning. We can then infer that God is likely nonexistent.
Summary of Con’s opening argument
P1. If God exists, then the universe was created.
P2. The universe wasn’t created.
C. God doesn’t exist.
I grant that this syllogism is valid (i.e., constructed in such a way so that if the major and minor premises are true, the conclusion must also be true), but I deny that it is sound (i.e., having both major and minor premises being true and thus having the conclusion true). Con supports the major premise via the definition of God. Then to support the minor premise, he argues that in order for the universe to be created (by God), it had to have been created either 1) before time or 2) simultaneously with time; Con then attempts to show that neither could be the case. However, he said nothing to convince me that the universe couldn’t have been created 3) outside of time.
The “reel world”
What do I mean by this third scenario? It seems that Con is using the word time in a way that is parallel with the Universe; in this sense, the beginning of the Universe is the beginning of time and the end of the universe would be the end of time. However, this third scenario I presented argues that God exists outside the universe and its time. If I would not be considered a thief by using one of Con’s own illustrations, let me illustrate with a movie reel:
Inside a movie reel is everything that goes on in the movie; we’ll call it the “reel world.” Sometime in between the start of the movie and the finish (shown by the gray [technically lavender] timeline above), let’s say a character in the movie named Joe tells his friend John, “Did you know that this whole world (i.e., the ‘reel world’) was created by a director?” John replies, “Of course not! If this world were created, it would have to have been created either 1) before time (which would be before the ‘Start’ mark shown above on the timeline) or 2) simultaneously with time (which would be right on the ‘Start’ mark). And we know neither of those are the case.” Does this refute the existence of the director? No, because John forgot to deal with the possibility that their world was created 3) outside of time (unaffected by the timeline).
In other words, the timeline itself was created by the director! (And this is true even though all scenes in the movie [represented by the timeline], from beginning to end, exist at the same, well, time.) And thus the director (who resides in the yellow area marked “Real world”) had everything in the blue circle created.
Application to the “real world”
What we have learned above is that a given realm (in the example’s case, the “reel world”) can be created by someone existing outside of the realm who is unaffected by its time. In fact, this is what the prophet Isaiah (discussed in my opening argument in Round 2) says about the God by whom he prophesied—that His name is “Our Redeemer from Everlasting” (Isa. 63:16, emphasis added). In other words, He is from (His origins go back to) everlasting, or eternity; He is eternal, outside of and unaffected by the time of our Universe. It sounds like this:
You see, it’s the exact same concept as with the movie reel. Sometime in between the start of the Universe and the finish (shown by the gray [technically lavender] timeline above), let’s say someone in the Universe named Pro tells his friend Con, “Did you know that this whole world (i.e., the ‘Universe’) was created by a Creator?” Con replies, “Of course not! If this world were created, it would have to have been created either 1) before time (which would be before the ‘Start’ mark shown above on the timeline) or 2) simultaneously with time (which would be right on the ‘Start’ mark). And we know neither of those are the case.” Does this refute the existence of the Creator? No, because Con forgot to deal with the possibility that the world was created 3) outside of time (unaffected by the timeline).
In other words, the timeline itself was created by the Creator! (And this is true even though all states of the Universe’s time [represented by the timeline], from beginning to end, exist at the same, well, time [assuming eternalism to be true]. And thus the Creator (who resides in the yellow area marked “Metaphysical world”) had everything in the blue circle created.
Thus, the “Reel World” rebuttal shows the cosmological argument (skeptic’s edition) to be unsatisfactory. (And, to leave seriousness for a moment, if Con should argue that I am stealing his illustration, I reply that he is attempting to steal the theists’ cosmological argument in the first place, as the cosmological argument generally refers to an argument used to support theism.)
Con failed to address the third scenario of how God could create the universe, namely, that God is outside of time and created the Universe with its time. Since this was his only argument, he is left without any others. Thus, his only means of showing naturalism to be more reasonable than theism is to explain why the third scenario could not be the case.
While neither of us may add new arguments, I will use my extra space to further support the arguments of mine which I presented in Round 2.
Cyrus the Great
While I could be wrong, the only point of disagreement I expect to receive with the Books of Isaiah and Daniel is the time in which they each were written. While the burden of proof for a change in date is on Con, since the understanding of the date I gave has been such for centuries until suddenly changing, I will present evidence to support the earlier dates.
The earliest manuscript of the Book of Isaiah, part of the collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls, has a date of at least 100 B.C. And yet this scroll contains all 66 chapters of the book without making any disctinctions. In fact, consider this: The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah were able to be merged into a single scroll with the clarity that Ezra wrote one part and Nehemiah wrote the other. What does this have to do with Isaiah? The copyist of this manuscript of Isaiah makes no indication in verse 1 of chapter 40—supposedly the first verse of the “second” author—distinguishing between Isaiah and some other author. If Chapters 40–66 were written by someone else, the manuscript would have said so. In fact, verse one of Chapter 40 runs together with the last verse of Chapter 39, being on the same page. This shows that the author had no knowledge of the Book of Isaiah being written by anyone other than Isaiah.
Also, Titus Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian, not only wrote as if Isaiah was understood to have been written by one person but also said that Cyrus read the Book after fulfilling it. Astonished by its accuracy, he decided to complete the last part of its fulfillment by freeing the Jews so that they could rebuild the temple. Clearly, he and his audience didn’t follow the theory which higher critics now espouse. (In fact, they wouldn’t have even heard about it.)
If the Book of Isaiah were written during the exile, we would expect the author to write with the language of the time. Ezra and Nehemiah do such, but Isaiah uses pure Hebrew.
In addition, Isaiah speaks against idolatry in 1:29–30, which makes sense for the time of Isaiah. However, passages after chapter 39 (claimed by the higher critics to have been written after the Jews were being set free from the Babylonian captivity) also speak against idolatry, such as Isaiah 57:4–8, which includes child sacrifice. However, idolatry wasn’t a problem after the Jews left the Babylonian captivity. If Isaiah 39–66 were post-exilic, then they shouldn’t have to deal with idolatry, just as the other post-exilic writings (Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi) don’t deal with it.
The Ram and the Goat
Now I shall present more evidence that Daniel was written in the 6th century B.C.
If the Book of Daniel were written in the 2nd century B.C. (and thus did not divinely prophecy Greece’s victory over Media and Persia), then how did the author know of “the reign of King Belshazzar” (8:1)? Ironically, the Book of Daniel’s mention of King Belshazzar used to be an argument used by skeptics against the divine inspiration of the book, saying that Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon and thus that Daniel made Belshazzar up. However, several archeological discoveries, including the Nabonidus Chronicle, revealed that Belshazzar was the son and coregent of Nabonidus. This also explains why Daniel was offered the third highest position, not the second (Dan. 5:16). It turns out that when Cyrus invaded, Nabonidus was not in Babylon but in Arabia, where he died around the time of Cyrus’ invasion. Belshazzar was forgotten from the 6th century B.C. until the Nabonidus Chronicle was discovered and published in the 19th century A.D.
If the Book of Daniel was written in the 2nd century B.C., during the time Belshazzar was unknown, how did the author of Daniel know about him? And how did he know that because of both Nabonidus and Belshazzar, Daniel would have the third highest position, not the second?
Lacking space, I’ll wait until the next round to continue on the resurrection, after Con attempts to present a more plausible theory that also explains all that historians largely agree about concerning the resurrection.
Based on the foregoing, theism is more reasonable than naturalism. While Con attempted to abductively show the contrary, it did not take into account 1) that Isaiah prophesied by name of Cyrus the Great, 2) that Daniel prophesied that Media and Persia would fall to Greece, and 3) that Jesus resurrected from the dead. Of course, this is because he wouldn’t concede all this and will attempt to debunk these three points this round. However, I’m sure he’d agree that if these things are as I say, then theism, not naturalism, would better fit the five criteria used in abductive reasoning.
Pro uses three historical arguments. Unfortunately, Pro never demonstrates the second half of his premises. He asserts that these events are supernatural, without showing this is the best explanation. Even if I were to grant that the authors of the listed prophecies really did predict these events and even if I were to grant that Jesus really did rise from the grave, I still have no reason for accepting that the supernatural was responsible. I will express why in this syllogism.
P1: If naturalistic explanations have been superior to supernatural explanations overall, then we ought to prefer a naturalistic explanation in the face of an unexplained event.
P2: Naturalistic explanations have been superior to supernatural explanations.
P3: The aforementioned prophecies and resurrection are unexplained events
C: Therefore, we ought to prefer naturalistic explanations.
If you knew someone who lied to everyone 9/10 times and one day he told you that he met the president, are you justified in not believing him? Of course, because he’s a pathological liar it is likely that he is lying. Likewise, if we have a ton of cases where the supernatural fails to adequately explain nature, are we justified in believing a supernatural event occurred? It doesn’t seem so. Therefore, P1 is justified.
Looking back at past cases of the supernatural, not one of them have been shown to be veridical in explaining reality. The role of Thor was better explained by electrostatic discharge caused by wind updrafts and downdrafts. The role of demons was better explained by germs and so on. So if we have some seemingly supernatural explanation, it is likely that there is another better explanation because this has been the case with all others.
What makes these events prove the supernatural and not something crazy such as aliens guiding our species, brains which are displaced in time, or the actual existence of psychohistory? Just because the people believe the event is supernatural doesn't make it so. For example, in the Star Trek episode “Devil's Due” the Enterprise uncovers a supposed supernatural malevolent deity as a con who was using advanced technology  . The people of Ventax II believed they were justified in believing that this was Satan when they really weren't. They had no reason to prefer a supernatural explanation to a natural one.
I contend that we actually have better reasons to prefer a crazy natural explanation rather than a supernatural one. If we recall my previous round, I mentioned abductive reasoning. The crazy sci-fi theories above may be unlikely if we were to run them through this method, but they would still be more likely than a supernatural explanation. They would all be simpler, since they don’t propose a whole new realm of existence. They may produce lots of questions, but since it sticks to the natural realm, it would propose less questions than the supernatural. Therefore, P2 is justified, P3 is assumed and the conclusion follows.
As David Hume explains
“[N]o testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish: and even in that case, there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force, which remains, after deducting the inferior.” 
However, I’m not so convinced that Pro’s arguments warrant this generous assumption of premise 3.
Pro presents two arguments that are essentially the same. They argue that because the bible has fulfilled prophecy that we are justified in believing they are divine. In regards to the book of Isaiah, Pro is going against modern scholarship. It is widely held today that Isaiah had three different authors spanning over different time periods . This reminds me of Bertrand Russell’s quote “When the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain;”
Pro says this isn’t traditional, but this is an appeal to tradition. Just because it’s traditional doesn’t make it correct. Does Pro claim that biblical scholarship has made no progress since the 18th century? Although it hasn’t been widely accepted, it was still suspected since the 11th century . Furthermore, Pro’s dating method seems to be a hasty generalization. Isa 1:1 occurs in 148 years before the Babylon event doesn’t entail that the entire book occurred at that time period. Gen 1:1 occurs at year 1, but his doesn’t mean that Rev 22:21 occurs at this time period.
The reason for this change is because there are clear differences in Isaiah beginning at chapter 40. The writing style isn’t written in a predictive style, but a presumption style . The general literary style is also very different than chapter 1-39 . The reason why the traditional view was held was because they already had the assumption that the book was written by a single author . Pro cites the Dead Sea Scrolls (at least 100 BC), but the second part of Isaiah was said to be written during the times of Cyrus (about 539 BC as Pro stated). This is plenty of time for Isaiah to be unified and accepted as one book. Just because the scribe didn’t know that Isaiah was written by multiple authors doesn’t entail that this is false.
His internal evidence isn’t convincing either. As cited above, the literary style is different starting a chapter 40. Furthermore, there was small pockets of idol worship during and after exile. “...the Jews were thoroughly weaned from all belief in idols, although superstition itself can never be wholly eradicated. Through mysticism and magic many polytheistic ideas and customs again found their way among the people...” 
Pro states that Cyrus read the book of Isaiah and was amazed that it talked about him. Unless I’m missing something, Pro’s source is claiming this was true for Alexander the Great and the book of Daniel. Not Cyrus and the book of Isaiah. Nonetheless, Josephus’ claims need to be met with skepticism, especially when he's the only account of an event. Josephus is sometimes accurate, but he has been inaccurate a number of times . Certain Christians argue this too. They claim Josephus is wrong about biblical chronology , wrote in a biased fashion, and he tends to exaggerate his testimony .
As for the book of Daniel, our earliest manuscripts date to 125 BCE . The book of Daniel also wasn't in Hebrew Canon, which also seems to be good evidence of its late authorship . Pro cites that the author of Daniel knew of Belshazzar. However, just because we couldn't find any evidence of Belshazzar’s existence until the 19th century doesn’t entail that his existence was lost throughout all of history. The Nabonidus Chronicle for example was copied sometime during the 4th-1rst century BCE, but mentioned Belshazzar . The claim that Belshazzar was lost throughout history is unjustified and outright wrong.
Lastly, perhaps the best reason to accept later dates is because it fits with our abductive reasoning. It is simpler, doesn’t propose a new realm of existence and therefore doesn’t propose more questions than it explains.
Pro argues that because we have eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection that we are justified in believing that he rose from the dead. However, Pro hasn’t shown these eyewitnesses are reliable. In many cases, I think Pro would agree that eyewitnesses are a poor form of evidence. The Koran describes eyewitnesses to Muhammad's moon splitting miracle , Jim Jones’ followers have witnessed Jones heal the sick and divine the future. Even more impressive, Sri Sathya Sai Baba has eyewitnesses to a ton of miracles including resurrections, omnipresence, healings, bilocation and much more . Most of these are contemporary eyewitnesses, but I doubt Pro is rushing to change his religion. Why should we reject these eyewitnesses and accept those from 2000 years ago?
Since Pro’s justification for P2 fails, so too does his argument.
Pro states that my argument doesn’t deal with the possibility that God created the universe ‘out of time’. This is only dealing with my first defense of premise 2 and not the other 3. My very last defense was all about how God’s timeless nature prevents him from causing or interacting with the universe. Neither does it refute the other 2 defenses. Under eternalism, the timeline couldn’t be created, because everything on it would have existed eternally and therefore it couldn’t have came into being. In my third point, I argued that if God is omniscient, then all states of time must exist for as long as God has existed. Being outside of time doesn’t do a thing to help Pro’s case in these arguments.
All of my defenses actually presume God is outside of time. I don’t see a meaningful difference to God being outside of time and God being prior to the universe. In order to be prior to the universe, you must be prior to time. If you are prior to time then it necessarily follows that you are outside of time. Otherwise, you’d have a problem of bootstrapping, you’d cause something’s existence while that thing already exists. If we observe Pro’s illustrations, we will see that before the start, we would be moving into the yellow zone. Which is the same thing as being outside of time. How could it be otherwise?
If Pro really does wish to contend that there is a meaningful difference or incompatibility, then he must contradict scripture. Titus 1:2 states “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began”. The older translations of Jude 1:25 speak about the Lord having dominion and power "before all the age," that is, before all time” . The bible too argues that God is before time.
Pro hasn’t provided a sound refutation to the skeptic cosmological argument. He conflates my first defense for premise 2 with my entire defense for it and misunderstands that the argument presumes God is outside of time.
Actually, if supernatural events happened, they wouldn't need supernatural explanations to show theism (which would be possible) more likely than naturalism (impossible).
The argument's not an appeal to tradition. Let’s say we’re in the 6th century, the time in which Chapters 44 and 45 (the chapters mentioning Cyrus) were written. Mankind has had the “authentic” Book of Isaiah (i.e., Chapters 1–39) at least a century and a half. All of the sudden someone adds 16 or 27 chapters to it. If someone now would add 16–27 chapters to a book written in the 19th century, it would be noticed and acknowledged. The Book of Nehemiah was merged to scrolls of the Book of Ezra, but it was clear that they were two separate writings. All we get for Isaiah is that the introduction dates the book to a time period encompassing 788–687 B.C., giving no indication that such only applies to the first 39 chapters. In Con’s illustration, we know that Genesis was written before Revelation because such was clarified; although we have multiple books composed to form the Bible, distinctions are made showing the books were made by different authors at different times—exactly what we don’t have with Isaiah!
Con said 100 B.C. was “plenty of time for Isaiah to be unified and accepted as one book.” However, the writings before its alleged unification would only be a few centuries old. While this at first appears long, we have writings (e.g., the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves) that are over 20 centuries old. In the same way, the 2nd-century-BC-to-1st-century-AD writers (e.g., the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, etc.) would have had access to the old Isaiah scrolls that only had 39 chapters and the external sources which mention the author(s) of Chapters 40–66; this would be true if such writings existed, anyway. But they didn’t know of such writings—none of the ancient writers! My referencing Josephus (who refers to both Isaiah [in Book 11, Chapter 1:1–2] and Daniel [Chapter 8:5]) was not necessarily to focus on whether Cyrus read the prophecy or not (though I did bring it up as an extra note); I was adding him to the list of references. I could also mention the Septuagint, written 300–200 B.C., and all preR08;11th century writings we have. If Isaiah wrote only the first 39 Chapters, how come none of the ancient writers know about it?
Con provides the reasons why higher critics come up with the dueteroR08; or tritoR08;Isaiah theory. However, all these reasons are subjective and/or inconsistent, inconsistent because the same criteria could apply to passages everyone agrees Isaiah wrote. These kind of arguments are much weaker than the hard historical evidence as well as the internal evidence saying the book had one author. For example, Con mentions that the writing after Chapter 39 speaks as if the events are presumed rather than speaking as if they were going to happen. However, as I already mentioned, this is a literary device done to show that the prophet is so certain the prophecy will be fulfilled that they speak as if it already happened, known as the prophetic perfect tense. To also show its inconsistency, Isaiah 5:13 (“Therefore my people have gone into captivity …” [emphasis added]), as well as 10:28–32, speak of events as if they already happened, and yet everyone agrees these passages were written long before the time they happened.
Con also claims that “the general literary style is different.” Con failed to explain in what way the wording is different. The Book was written “in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah” (1:1), a time period of at the very least 30 years (assuming it was the last year of Uzziah’s reign to the first year of Hezekiah’s). Surely Isaiah’s writing style could have changed during this time period. In fact, our writing style probably already changed since Round 2 of this debate, let alone since what it would be 30 years from now!
Con says “there was small pockets of idol worship during and after exile,” but is Isaiah 57:5–8 addressing “small pockets of idol worship”? No, it speaks of the people “Inflaming [themselves] with gods under every green tree” (v. 5, emphasis added). Idolatry is also discussed in 45:16; 46:1–4; 48:5; 57:13, etc. Books before the destruction of Babylon and rebuilding of the temple deal with idolatry; the books after (Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi) don’t. Which does Isaiah sound more like? The former. Also, the books before were written in pure Hebrew; the books after were not. Which category does Isaiah sound like? The former, not the latter.
Finally, Con says that the prophecies I mentioned are so accurate that they must have been written after they happened, as this allegedly would be simpler than assuming a supernatural prophecy did happen. Yet, a text describing an event in so much detail that it had to have been written after in order for it to be natural is yet another inconsistent criterion. Isaiah contains another supernatural prophecy concerning Babylon in Chapter 13, known as “The burden against Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw” (v. 1). It prophesied that Babylon would be destroyed by the Medes (vv. 17–18) and that Babylon would not be inhabited “from generation to generation” (v. 20).
While Cyrus the great was a Persian, he also was a Mede, due to his mother. This and the fact that he combined Media and Persia to create a MedoR08;Persian empire (discussed in Round 2) show that the Medes also destroyed Babylon in 539 B.C., fulfilling the first point. Later, the city became abandoned and has not been inhabited for centuries fulfilling the second point. This is a supernatural prophecy, and yet everyone agrees that Isaiah wrote it at least a century and a half before even the first part was fulfilled. (Note: Since this prophecy was not brought up in Round 2, I cannot use this as an argument directly to prove the existence of God. I’m instead using it to debunk the view that a prophecy’s authorship/date must be changed if a failure to do so would result in the abolition of naturalism.)
Thus, all the reasons for a change in authorship are subjective and/or inconsistent.
Con says that our earliest manuscript of the Book of Daniel dates to 125 B.C. This means that our oldest manuscript is approximately 2,140 years old. Yet, this manuscript would only be 40 years after the time Daniel was supposedly written! Daniel, according to the secular, higher critics, was written approximately 165 B.C.! And yet, this recent manuscript dates itself to “the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar” (v.1), or about 553 B.C.!
Con also argues that the Book of Daniel wasn’t in the Hebrew canon. More accurately, the argument goes thus: “The Hebrew canon consists of three divisions, the ‘Law’, the ‘Prophets’ and the ‘Writings’, and Daniel is included in the third and last divisions. This suggests that the book was not known by 200 B.C. ...” However, this argument is weak and assumes that the liberal scholars are right. “Most conservative Old Testament scholars believe that Daniel was not placed among the prophets in our present Hebrew Bible because he served in a foreign court, did not prophesy directly to the people of Israel, and included much historical material in the book. But, significant evidence is available that Daniel was originally counted among the prophets and was only shifted to another category of canonical books of Hebrew scribes in the fourth century A.D.”
Con also points out that the Nabonidus chronicle exists during the time I said Belshazzar was unknown. I admit that I was wrong.
All we have for the moonR08;splitting miracle is that the Quran (and one other source) tells us there were eyewitnesses. As for Jim Jones, Con’s own source says, “Others deny Jones’ ability in its entirety, insisting instead that he used manipulative but ultimately transparent methods to give temporary comfort to the susceptible and to draw in the vulnerable.” Con’s reference to Sri Sathya Sai Baba was too general a citation for me to verify.
First Corinthians 15:3–8, however, was written to Corinth, and they could verify it. Many of the 500, for example, were still alive at this time (v. 6). Even secular scholars believe that this happened. They agree that entire groups of people saw Jesus; they disagree that what they saw was what was true. You failed, Con, to posit a theory more likely than Jesus’ resurrection that would at the same time be naturalistic. Bart Ehrman, for example, argues that there were group visions (basically hallucinations)—but this itself would be supernatural, as I can’t be in a vision with you. And what’s more likely? A miracle happening once (viz., Jesus’ resurrection) or a miracle happening multiple times (viz., group visions happening multiple times, to the 500 and to the apostles, for example)?
Please present a theory simpler than the resurrection, yet one that doesn’t go against the evidence scholars nearly unanimously agree on.
Cosmological argument (skeptic’s addition)
Con said eternalism is the view that all states of time exist eternally. However, all I’ve ever read was that eternalism is the theory that “all points in time are equally real.” This definition better fits the movie reel illustration. All time now exists, yet all of time was created. (Note: I’m not necessarily sure eternalism is true. There are arguments against it, but I need not bring them up so long as eternalism doesn’t contradict God). Con also said, “[I]f God is omniscient, then all states of time must exist for as long as God has existed.” This assumes eternalism is incompatible with God, which whether true or false is a burden Con must prove.
Yes, God exists before time—in the sense I’ve said it, that He’s outside of and unaffected by time. When you said He couldn’t exist before time, you meant it in a sense that He would be affected by it, arguing that “there couldn’t have been a ‘before’ the universe.”
I would first like to state that throughout the debate, my fourth defense for premise 2 went ignored. That was the one arguing that a timeless entity couldn’t cause anything. My case is in a parallel structure, that is to say either defense is sufficient to demonstrate premise 2. Since there has been no objection to the problem of action, it has been conceded and therefore so has the argument.
Pro states that my omniscience paradox needs to show eternalism and creation of the universe are incompatible. The beauty of my omniscience paradox is that it’s wholly independent of my eternalist defense. Rather or not you believe the second defense is sound has no bearing on acceptance of my third defense. I encourage everyone to re-read it to see this. Look back at what Pro quoted “[I]f God is omniscient, then all states of time must exist for as long as God has existed.” Notice my emphasis? If something coexists with you, you cannot bring it into existence. Pro conceded on that point, as he never objected to it. If a state of time exists for as long as God has existed, then it coexisted with God. This means God couldn’t have brought the universe into existence because it always existed with the creator. Pro’s only objection this is based on a misunderstanding and therefore my defense still stands.
Pro believes that eternalism and the existence of God is compatible. He says eternalism doesn’t hold that all states of time exist equally. However, all states of time existing equally entails they exist eternally. As I quoted Dr. Craig in round 2, the big bang wouldn’t have came into being. The past and future exist just as much as today exists. Therefore, nothing can ever come into being because they already existed. If God were to create the universe, it must have been nonexistent in one moment, then existent in the next. It would entail an objective flow of time, which eternalism rejects.
It appears Pro misunderstood my first defense from causality. He states “When you said He couldn’t exist before time, you meant it in a sense that He would be affected by it...” Pro doesn’t see the conclusion of this. If one rereads my argument you will see that my argument is based on causality. To quickly rephrase my argument, causes need to be prior to effects. So, if we have a cause of the universe, it needs to be prior to the effect. Prior is a temporal subject, but since we are dealing with a cause of time, then therefore the cause itself needs to be atemporal. The cause cannot be atemporal, therefore it is a contradiction to speak of a cause of time.
All Pro is doing is affirming that the cause isn’t temporal. Yes, this is what my argument depends on, God would be affected by time if he is the cause, but he cannot be affected by time. Ergo, he cannot be the cause of time. Being outside of time is exactly why he cannot be a creator.
All of the scholarship is interesting, it really is. However, it’s all secondary. If Pro hasn’t shown these events are supernatural, then his entire argument is for naught. Pro attempts to respond to this with the sentence: “Actually,if supernatural events happened, they wouldn't need supernatural explanations to show theism..more likely than naturalism..”
But we can plainly see that this is a strawman of my argument. I never once argued you have to demonstrate supernatural events have supernatural explanations. If an event is supernatural, it tautologically follows that its explanation is supernatural. If we reread my argument, I was arguing that Pro needs to demonstrate that the event itself has a supernatural cause which would prove that the event is supernatural. My rebuttal didn’t assume supernatural events occurred, only that the events (neutral) occurred and analyzed if it was reasonable to believe that it has a supernatural explanation. The nature of the event itself doesn’t prove it’s supernatural. Even though something such as a coin vanishing trick looks supernatural, it has a natural cause and therefore not supernatural. The seemingly impossibility of the event is not evidence of the supernatural.
Pro must do two things for his argument to work.
1. Demonstrate x happened.
2. Demonstrate that x is supernatural.
Pro only focuses on the first point. Pro’s goal is to demonstrate that theism is more likely than naturalism. He does this by trying to appeal to an various events and he infers that those events are supernatural, but he hasn’t once tried to justify that inference.
Pro has misrepresented my argument and it therefore remains. Even if Pro is correct on scholarship and the like, he still has yet to fulfill his burden of proof.
Pro states his argument wasn’t an appeal from tradition. Since the only support he gave in his opening round was that it was traditional, then it was. Pro provides additional support, but this doesn’t negate that his original statement was an appeal to tradition.
I still find this to be poor evidence. We would notice nowadays if someone added to a book, but we are hardly in the same contextual situations as 6th century BCE. Why should we believe we are in the same scholarly situations as 6th century BCE? It’s interesting that brought up the Ezra-Nehemiah split because that split was due to differences in literary style. Something Pro believes is “subjective and/or inconsistent”. The split was probably hard for scholars to accept because it contradicts the idea that Isaiah contains prophecy.
Pro says the ancient writers had the full book of Isaiah. However, since the scrolls they copied from are lost, there is no way to know how old their Isaiah manuscript was and therefore no way to show Pro’s point.
Pro argues that Isaiah's literary style could’ve changed. Literary style is more than just the words someone uses. In incorporates mood, point of view, tone, symbolism and it sets various authors apart. My previous round’s citation provides multiple literary differences. Such that the first Isa has an optimistic tone, whereas the second half has a pessimistic tone. Both also have very different theological messages and the name Isaiah stops being used beginning at chapter 40.
Pro says there wasn’t small pockets of idol worship, but large pockets. Assuming this isn’t an exaggeration, the word “small” may have been an underestimation on my part. If you look at my source, It never used the word small. As for Isa being written in pure Hebrew, this is unimpressive. Other post-exile prophets also wrote in pure Hebrew.
Pro cites another prophecy to justify the claim we cannot believe in an abductive solution to the problem. However, Pro’s verse claims the Medes will attack babylon. While Cyrus may have been half-Mede, his army that took babylon was Persian. If a half-German lead the Chinese military into victory, it doesn’t follow that the Germans won that victory. Since his prophecy is unsound, my abductive argument stands.
Pro asserts that the oldest daniel scroll would be 2,140 years old, but gives no justification. He quotes John Whitcomb in claiming that Daniel wasn’t in the Hebrew Canon due to personal bias. His only evidence is Whitcomb’s authority. Since Pro admits there is debate in this area and since Whitcomb is significantly biased, this is an appeal to authority.
The evidence for early authorship isn’t sufficient.
Pro states that I haven’t given an alternative theory of the resurrection. Yet Pro hasn’t shown us why I needed to. If we are in a time where historical knowledge is lacking and I come up with a theory about Julius Caesar’s death that is ridiculously implausible, we would be irrational to believe it. However, this doesn’t mean that Pro needs to come up with some alternative theory in order for us to reject an absurd theory. I don’t have to propose an alternative theory, if Pro’s evidence for P2 fails, then so too does his argument.
Pro says even secular scholars believe 500 people saw Jesus. However, Pro’s source only speaks about the appearances to the disciples, not the 500. Nor does it explain why he believes biblical testimony.
Pro tries to make distinctions between the eyewitness evidence of Jesus’ resurrection and the other eyewitness evidence I presented. He negates the moon splitting miracle by claiming the only evidence we have that this happened is two sources telling us there were eyewitnesses. Compared to the letter to Corinth which tells us there were eyewitnesses. Pro states Corinth could verify these accounts. But how? Paul doesn’t name the 500 witnesses and furthermore, why couldn’t someone have tried to verify Muhammad’s moon splitting miracle? There still doesn’t seem to be a meaningful difference in the evidence for Muhammad's miracles and Christ’s resurrection.
With Jim Jones, Pro states some denied Jones’ miracles. So does Pro believe the presence of doubters negates all eyewitness testimony? If we recall the story of Thomas, he doubted Jesus until he felt his wounds. What if Thomas still didn’t believe, does that immediately invalidate all eyewitness accounts? I don’t think Pro would believe it does, so why should we believe in with Jones? My source explains why those people denied Jones’ claims, they joined after a certain period of time where Jones was forced to resort to performing non-genuine healings. Why should we discount evidence before this time, but not the bible’s?
Pro says the reference to Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s miracles is too general a citation. Pro doesn’t explain what this means, nor does he explain how this is different from Paul's testimony. You can see a list directly named testimonials in my citation. These can still be accessed using the archive.org. The websites states that it has testimony from “671 devotees”. If 671 personally written testimonials isn’t specific enough for Pro, I don’t know is.
If eyewitness testimony is to be trusted, then it is true in these cases which don’t benefit Pro.
Con said that even if the prophecies and the ressurection did happen, we should choose a natural explanation. However, there are no natural explanations for foreseeing the future. The only natural explanation presently available is that the prophecies didn’t happen but were really written after the event. Resurrecting from the dead violates the scientific law of biogenesis, explained in Round 2.
We only can argue from what we now know. Otherwise, the debate will end in a tie. With this method, I could debunk your second premise of the skeptic’s cosmological argument (i.e., that the Universe couldn’t have been created) by saying, “Even though Belshazzar was thought to have been made up, it was shown to be true and therefore not false. The seeming lack of knowledge of the event is not evidence of forgery.” No, I'm going to answer the argument.
The fourth defense
Con says that I’ve ignored his fourth defense of the premise that God could not have created the Universe if He is timeless. However, my movie reel rebuttal did deal with it. What’s going on, though, is that we’re now discussing two different times. There can be a “before time” with our original definition, as there could be “time” (in the broader sense) before “time” (the creation of the Universe).
If we are to move to the broader sense of time, then the problem would be that Con has failed to show that God created time; he only demonstrated that God created the Universe. How does Con know that the beginning of the Universe “would’ve been inch one on a ruler” and not, for example, inch three? In fact, “many … cosmologists have begun to consider the possibility of time before the [Universe’s beginning], as well as alternative theories of how our universe came to be.” If Con should quote, for example, William Lane Craig, he was saying that, if true, eternalism attacks the theist’s Kalām cosmological argument by making the Universe possibly on inch one of a ruler. Eternalism doesn’t, however, support the skeptic’s cosmological argument by making the Universe definitely on inch one, as the Universe could have come later—for example, on inch three. And quoting Titus 1:2 presents two problems: 1) The epistle obviously uses time in a way that permits there to be a “before time began.” 2) Even if what’s said in Titus 1:2 were false, which hasn't been done, it would only show the Epistle to Titus to be incorrect, not God existing.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that knowing the time in which something happens means it exists eternally, like Con says. Then the time in which Con created his Round 4 debate post would exist eternally. Yet, Con wouldn’t deny that he created the Round 4 debate post above. If Con’s creation of the debate post can happen although the time in which it happened is eternal, why can’t God’s creation of the Universe happen although the time in which it happened is eternal? Con must assume that the creation of the Universe is interchangeable with the creation of time (in the broad sense) for this argument to stand as well.
Con claims that in the 6th century B.C., adding 16–27 chapters to a book could go unnoticed because “we are hardly in the same contextual situations as 6th century BCE.” Yet Con didn’t really explain how this follows. Do you believe that the Jews, who would have had the 39-chapter Book of Isaiah for at least a century and a half, would be completely oblivious after one of them got one with 16–27 extra chapters because of the “scholarly situations” of the time, Con?
Con says that Ezra-Nehemiah was split “due to differences in literary style. Something Pro believes is ‘subjective and/or inconsistent.’” The reason I know the Book of Nehemiah was written by Nehemiah is because it says so (Neh. 1:1). It does not say so with Isaiah. Also, how come the ones who split Ezra-Nehemiah didn’t split Isaiah?
While Con said that literary style sets people apart, I think he’s making too much of the source he gave to conclude such. Forbes, for example, gives a list of habits “That Set Ultra Successful People Apart.” Yet, someone could have all the habits listed without being “Ultra Successful.” Also, there is an article by the preacher Steven J. Wallace titled Away From The Manger. It’s poetry, but every single other writing he’s made is not poetry. It says it was written by “Steven J. Wallace” (like the Book of Isaiah credits the entirety to “Isaiah the son of Amoz” [1:1] without making distinctions) and he’s the traditional author, but such may just be an appeal to tradition. In reality, it doesn’t follow his literary style. Yet surely you are not going to deny he wrote the article, are you?
Con argues that “since the scrolls they copied from are lost, there is no way to know how old their Isaiah manuscript was and therefore no way to show Pro’s point.” Although we don’t have the manuscripts, they had them. While this applies for Isaiah, it really is so for Daniel, our earliest manuscript evidence being only 40 years after the date higher critics give for the original.
The source Con gave in regards to post-exilic idol worship said that “the Jews were thoroughly weaned from all belief in idols, although superstition itself can never be wholly eradicated.” Isaiah’s period, however, one in which the people were “Inflaming [themselves] with gods under every green tree” (57:3). While the post-exilic writings don’t deal with idolatry, Isaiah deals with it extensively—even after Chapter 39—discussing it in 45:5–8, 16; 46:1–4; 48:5; 57:13, etc.
It is false that I gave no justification for our oldest manuscript evidence of Daniel being 2,140 years old. Con said that “our earliest manuscripts date to 125 BCE.” Rounding to the nearest ten, this would be 2,140 years ago. Also, my source showed that the time scholars claim Daniel was written was only 40 years earlier, in approximately 164 B.C.! So the solid, physical evidence is on the side of the early-daters, while only subjective arguments can be used against it. Vote Pro!
Con says I quoted John Whitcomb as an authority to show “that Daniel wasn’t in the Hebrew Canon due to personal bias.” A better argument I could have used, however, is that again, the argument is inconsistent; the Book of Job, for example, is also in the Writings, yet this doesn’t mean it was written after 200 B.C. In reality, that eight fragmentary copies of the Book of Daniel (two dating to the second century B.C.) were found at Qumran supports its understanding as being sacred during this time. If it’s just a hazy book purporting at places to be written centuries before it really was, how did it become so popular and receive so many copies that eight fragmentary manuscripts were found at Qumran?
In Round 3, Con said that “perhaps the best reason to accept later dates is because it fits with our abductive reasoning” (emphasis mine). This is true; I think we agree that if they didn’t speak accurately of events to come, the accepted dates of the books wouldn’t have been changed. To answer this argument, I said that it is subjective because Isaiah 13 has similar prophecy at least 148 years before being fulfilled, and yet its date wasn’t changed. The only objection Con raised was that the prophecy supposedly was not fulfilled, because the Persians, not Medes, defeated Babylon. The source Con gave said “Persia,” but it also is called Medo-Persia. Why? Everyone agrees that the account of Daniel 8 is accurate. However, it says that Greece would destroy Media and Persia (Dan. 8:20). However, Greece didn’t destroy Media; it only destroyed Persia. “Media and Persia” therefore refer to the Medo-Persian Empire, so the Empire also can be called Media, or it can be called Persia. For example, we can say, “The ram and he-goat [in Daniel 8] are interpreted explicitly as the kings of Persia [technically Medo-Persia] and Greece” (emphasis added). In the same way, Isaiah knew and said explicitly that Media (technically Medo-Persia) would destroy Babylon! Con’s only objection to my rebuttal of his strongest argument falls like Babylon!
Con’s last round in which I could follow up, has passed without Con attempting to come up with a more plausible theory than that Jesus resurrected. Con claims he doesn’t have too, because if evidence was lacking and he made an absurd theory about how Julius Caesar died, we should just reject it immediately. Actually, if Con made an absurd theory and no more plausible theory would explain what we know, then we would need to accept the theory. For example, there is no simple theory as to how life began, so people come up with many different ideas. If there were a simple theory that would explain all we know, then we could reject all the existing theories.
In Round 2 I gave some evidence and said that the only explanation we can come up with that explains the evidence is that he did rise. It is agreed that Paul, formerly a practitioner of Judaism, “had [a] vision of Jesus” and “came to believe in him” and that people had group visions, seeing Jesus. What natural theory can account for this information? If the resurrection is so absurd, how come Con was unable to bring up a single alternative possibility?
Con claimed I’m inconsistent for believing 500 witnesses of Jesus’ appearances but not believing the “671 devotees” of Jim Jones. Actually, I will grant that he did something that in some way “healed” people. The question is, what theory should we use? Should we conclude that 1) Jones has supernatural power or 2) “he used manipulative but ultimately transparent methods to give temporary comfort to the susceptible and to draw in the vulnerable.” I’ll go with the second one, as it explains the evidence and is more plausible. For the resurrection, we (or should I say “I”) presented two theories: 1) Jesus resurrected and 2) the disciples experienced hallucinations. Only the first was ever defended.
Pro states that his reel rebuttal dealt with the fourth defense, yet he never explains how. His reel response attempted to show that “Con forgot to deal with the possibility that the world was created 3) outside of time “. However, my fourth defense was all about God’s inability to cause the universe precisely because of his timeless nature. So, it couldn’t have dealt with defense four. He then talks about the possibility of time existing in general rather than being created with the universe. This doesn’t matter to my fourth defense, as it argued that timeless entities couldn’t create or affect time at all, in which case it wouldn’t matter if we are speaking about time within the universe or time outside the universe. The fourth defense still hasn’t been properly dealt with by Pro, which is enough for the argument to be established.
However, my other defenses still haven’t been properly dealt with either. Pro’s new rebuttal about time existing sans the universe is trivial in regards to all of my defenses. With eternalism, it doesn’t matter if the creation of the universe is inch three (which wouldn’t make sense by the way, because the ruler is suppose to represent the universe and therefore inch one is necessarily the start) because we are only caring about the creation of our universe. This objection would only work with my first defense.
Even then, it is of trivial consequence. Since space and time are interwoven, then time in a broader sense would also be speaking of space. This would essentially be speaking of another universe. Then one could ask, what caused that universe to come into existence? We are at the same problem. If the universe depends on some other spacetime, then where did that spacetime come from? We are back at the original problem I outlined in defense one.
Pro has misunderstood my omniscience defense again. Pro argues against the strawman of “knowing the time in which something happens means it exists eternally”, this is not what I was arguing. My argument was that God knows the future and therefore there are true facts about the future. However, the knowledge about the time in which something happens can refer to present events to make it true. The timer, my unwillingness to forfeit, and the way DDO is coded demonstrates when something is going to happen. I only know round 4 was going to happen in virtue of these facts. I didn’t know about round 4 because I knew about the future content of round 4. Furthermore, these facts don’t guarantee the outcome. They are only our reasons for our belief, but it still might have been the case that DDO would’ve ceased to exist before my round 4 was posted or written.
However, God’s omniscience isn’t like this. God’s knowledge is guaranteed. God doesn’t just know when something will happen, he knows the event as if it did happen. He doesn’t rely on the present for his knowledge. He has all knowledge, and therefore has all knowledge of the future which would require more than knowledge about the mere present in order to guarantee his knowledge.
Throughout the debate Pro has misunderstood this argument. His original rebuttal didn’t deal with defense 2-4, his next argued that the strawmanned version of my arguments didn’t establish premise two (still ignoring defense 4), and now he is arguing about the possibility of time existing before the big bang. Neither of Pro’s responses is sufficient to harm my argument. Since my argument stands, my position is affirmed.
Pro’s only objection is that that there are no natural explanations. However, if we reread my original rebuttal, I clearly did give examples of potential natural explanations. From my round 3
“What makes these events prove the supernatural and not something crazy such as aliens guiding our species, brains which are displaced in time, or the actual existence of psychohistory?”
Why is Pro justified in arguing for the supernatural in these cases and someone else isn’t justified in arguing that Jesus was a Deep Space Nine-esque changeling who was guiding our species or the prophets were psychohistorians? Both explain the data and in fact the ones that don’t presume a supernatural world are simpler.
He also states we have to argue with what we know. However, we would only know the events Pro listed happened, not about the cause. Arguing with what we know would fit much better with my position, because we don’t know that the said events were supernatural. Pro is inconsistent, because he also argues that we should accept the only theory that exists, but also argues we should only argue from what we now know.
Pro has ignored this point from the start. All of the scholarship is secondary and is only evidence of the events happening and not the supernatural nature of them. We have no good reason to presume these events are supernatural, so even if Pro is correct on scholarship, it is all for naught. We are still unjustified in accepting theism.
Pro misses my point about addition of Isa. I am arguing that Pro hasn’t demonstrated that we are in the same scholarly situations. He is assuming that Isa was a full book, that knowledge about Isa was well known, ect. We know that Isaiah was in anonymous fragments , so this proves that Pro’s assumptions are false.
Pro argues he is consistent in denying literary distinction because Nehemiah says there is a split. But Neh 1:1 only speaks about the book of Nehemiah. It says nothing about Ezra. There is also debate about if Nehemiah was written before Ezra because of internal evidence. Such as Ezra speaking about the wall Nehemiah built . I already answered why a split might not have appealed to ancient scholars in my last round. A Ezra-Nehemiah split doesn’t cause a lot of doctrinal debate, whereas an Isa split would.
Pro says I am making too much of my source. However, just because one article used “apart” in a hyperbolic way doesn’t entail my source is doing it. As I said in my last round, writing style incorporates a variety of entities. A combination of these diverse entities would create a huge list of potential writing combinations. Style isn't as simple as only poetic writing, Pro’s analogy is false.
Next, Pro states that although we don’t have the manuscripts, the men he listed had them. I never negated this. What I’m saying is that since we don’t have them, we can’t claim how old their Isa manuscript was to know that they would’ve had a full book or only chapters 1-39.
Nothing in the quote Pro provided demonstrates that idol worship didn’t gain popularity. My source states “..mysticism and magic many polytheistic ideas and customs again found their way among the people, and the Talmud confirms the fact that idolatrous worship is seductive“. It doesn’t speak about small pockets of idol worship at all. Pro drops his objection about Isa being written in pure Hebrew.
When Pro said the earliest Daniel manuscript was 2,140 years old, I thought he was using 125 BC as his starting point. In any event, my argument was negating the claim that Daniel had an early authorship date because our manuscripts only go back to 125 BC Arguing that Daniel was written in 164 BC does nothing for Pro’s argument because he needs it to be written in 6th century BC
Pro drops Whitcomb’s argument and offers another one. Job was in the writings, but that doesn’t mean it was written after 200 B.C. This is a strawman, my rebuttal had to do with Daniel not being in the writings.
Pro argues my abductive argument is still unsuccessful because the Achaemenid Empire was called the “Medo-Persia” Empire. The prophecy is still inaccurate, as the military composition was extremely diverse. Medes were a part of the empire, but it is no more accurate to claim the Medes took Babylon that it’s accurate to claim the Cilicians took Babylon. This prophecy isn’t accurate and therefore my abductive argument succeeds like Cyrus the Great.
Pro argues we would have to believe that my abused theory of Caesar's death is correct because we don’t have a competing theory. This is a textbook argument from ignorance fallacy. The argument from ignorance happens when one claims we should believe p because p hasn’t been disproven. If we are to accept Pro’s idea, then we have to accept all sorts of crazy claims. For example, the identity of the zodiac killer is unknown , yet if I claimed Pro is the zodiac killer, I doubt anyone would believe me. If I claim that aliens will destroy the Earth next week at 7:32 pm, since nobody else has presented a theory about what will happen at this time, we would need to believe it. But, nobody should believe this. We need to base our views on reason and evidence, not on whoever makes a theory about the unknown. Furthermore, my rebuttal to this point was that accepting any justification for premise 2 leads to contradictions. Would Pro really claim we need to accept a theory even if it had contradictions in it just because no one else has anything better? It couldn’t be true, by definition.
Pro only deals with my Jones counterexample and drops the Muhammad and Sri Sathya Sai Baba ones. How does one use magic tricks to split the moon? How could Sri Sathya (who is the one that had the 671 devotees, not Jones) use manipulative tricks to resurrect the dead, be in two places at once and cure heart disease? Certainly, Pro’s second explanation fails to account for all of my counterpoints. Even with the Jones example, Pro fails to explain why the second theory explains the data better than the first.
Even if I grant that Pro refuted the Jones counterexample, he still dropped the Islamic and Indian Mystic examples. If we are to believe that the justification for Pro’s premise 2 is sound, then we must believe in not only Christianity, but Islam and Indian Mysticism. This is contradictory to Pro's original point, therefore we must reject any justification for the second premise and without premise 2, everything about Pro’s resurrection argument falls apart.