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Theism or Atheism?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/24/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,014 times Debate No: 46573
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
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Anyone(preferably an atheist) can feel free to write up an opening statement!

In my opening speech, I'll present 3 arguments for the existence of God. Firstly, the modal cosmological argument, which establishes that there exists a necessarily existent agent which explains the existence our universe(and the CCF). Secondly, the modal ontological argument, which establishes that a maximally great being exists. And finally, I'll argue from the existence of intentional states, that naturalism(which is widely regarding as the most plausible form of atheism) is false.

Firstly, for my modal cosmological argument, I'll express the distinction between a necessary fact and a contingent fact. A necessary fact is one which could not fail to obtain, and thus obtains in all possible world. Perhaps we might imagine facts like '1+1=2' or 'all bachelors are unmarried' which obtain in all possible worlds. These facts are necessitated and thus do not require further explanations of their obtaining. However, contingent facts are fact like 'my car is blue' or 'I ate waffles for breakfast'. These facts are only true in some possible worlds and could have failed to obtain(under counterfactual scenarios). It happened to be the case that I ate waffles for breakfast, but it COULD have been the case that I ate eggs for breakfast. To get a better grasp of these concepts I would suggest reading up on modal logic.

Now we have a general understand of what is meant by necessity and contingency, so let's proceed. It is an almost universally accepted principle that contingent facts all have explanations of their obtaining. To deny this would firstly be a completely ad hoc maneuver employed only for the purpose of avoiding the conclusion of this argument, and secondly just lands one in complete absurdity. Once we deny that the Principle of Sufficient Reason(PSR), which states that all contingent facts have explanations for their obtaining, we're no longer in the skeptical swamp of, for all we know, having unreliable cognitive faculties. No, we're in a much deeper and muddier swamp of our sensory experiences just popping in and out of existence for absolutely no reason at all! So with this we can go on the argue,

P1: For every contingent fact, that fact has an explanation for it's obtaining.
P2: The fact that there obtains a conjunction of contingent facts(CCF), is itself a contingent fact.
C: The fact that the CCF obtains is explained.
P3: If the CCF has an explanation, the explanation has to be in terms of a necessary fact.
C2: The CCF is explained in terms of a necessary fact.
P4: IF the CCF is explained in terms of a necessary fact, that necessary fact is an agent with intentional states and power necessary to actualize CCFs exists(God - moral perfection).
C3: God(minus-moral perfection) exists

Now, the move from the conjunction of P1 and P2 to C1 is relatively uncontroversial. 2 true premises in valid structure leads to a sound argument.

Likewise, the move from C1 and P3 to C2, is completely uncontroversial. Why, one might ask, can't the explanation of the CCF be another contingent fact. Well, if it was a contingent fact, it would itself be part of the CCF and need a further explanation. The only way to stop this vicious regress of contingent explanations, is to posit a necessary fact to terminate it.

The move, however, from C2 and P4 to C3, might prima facie, strike as incredibly implausible. However this prima facie intuition gets quickly eviscerated post-analysis. Considering the species of explanations, we have the intentional explanation(i.e appealing to an intentional state such as a want, belief, or desire), the causal explanation, and the probabilistic explanation.

The probabilistic explanation, in this scenario, is completely ABSURD! There are literally an infinite amount of possible CCFs which could have been actualized due to 'probability'. This means that the probability of the CCF which obtains in the actual world is literally 1 over infinity. How insane is THAT?

The causal/mechanistic explanation also fails for an innumerable amount of reasons. For instance, how can we make sense of atemporal causation? Secondly, if the necessary fact is a mechanistic/causal explanation of the CCF, then it would follow that no facts within the CCF are contingent, since mechanistic/causal explanations entail their explanandum. And, whatever is entailed by a necessary fact is itself a necessary fact. Consequently, to posit a causal/mechanistic explanation, we would literally need to believe that my eating waffles for breakfast was as necessary as the fact that 1+1=2. Pure insanity! Consequently, we're left with only one alternative.

We must posit, as an explanation for the obtaining of the CCF, the existence of a necessarily existent agent with intentional states. By intentionality here, I'm not implying any robust notion of LFW. Rather what I'm referring to is a notion of intentionality as a normative concept. An intentional state, such as a want, belief, or desire, is an explanation which doesn't entail the explanandum. Take for instance an agent who has the belief(intentional state) that it's raining and the desire(intentional state) to stay dry. We're obviously going to say that, if the agent walks outside with the umbrella, the intentional states, i.e, the desire to stay dry and the belief that it's raining, is in some sense an explanation for the fact that the agent brought the umbrella outside. Even if there's no strict entailment relation between the two. It is in this sense, that the existence of the universe is explained in terms of a necessarily existent agent with intentional states.

Next up, we have the modal ontological argument for the existence of God. This one goes as follows,

P1: It is POSSIBLE, that the Maximally Great Being(MGB) exists.
P2: If it is POSSIBLE, that the MGB(God) exists, then the MGB(God) exists.
C: The MGB(God) exists.

While this argument may seems completely insane, you will be thrilled to learn that premise 2 is actually COMPLETELY uncontroversial. It's been proven, by Axiom S5 of Modal Logic, that the atheist's only escape from this argument is to deny P1. The significant difference between what this argument establishes from what my first argument establishes is moral perfection as one of the necessarily existent being's properties. That is, this argument establishes that the MGB's nature is in complete accordance with the abstract property of moral perfection. Given that there's absolutely no logical contradiction derived from the existence of an MGB, we can conclude with absolute certainty, that God exists.

Though we've already concluded with absolute certainty the existence of God, I want to add a bit of icing on the cake. My third argument is the argument from intentional states, which concludes the falsity of what is widely held as the most plausible form of atheism.

P1: If naturalism is true, then intentional states cannot exist.
P2: Intentional states DO exist.
C: Naturalism is false.

No one will be as silly as to deny P2, thus we shall focus on P1. Intentional states are normative concepts, which means that they imply a notion of oughtness. A desires is an intentional state which identifies something that you 'ought' to pursue more or less. However, it's ironically a 'naturalistic fallacy' to derive such an OUGHT from a mere IS. And since on naturalism, things merely ARE the case, we can't derive any notion of 'oughtness' and thus can't have intentional states such as wants, beliefs, and desires. Since the natural sciences don't study anything aside from causal dispositions, the only way to make sense of intentional states is to turn them into irreducible non-natural properties, which falsifies naturalism.

In conclusion, we've seen 2 powerful arguments for the existence of God and a clear defeater for the most plausible form of atheism. Consequently, we can conclude that god exists and that atheism is untenable.


I thank Pro for such nice argument. Let's go to directly first argument. P1,2,3 and C1,2 are agreeable. But it has few problems. God is not defined, (attributes of) CCF is not defined, are CCF and God equivalent or equal. There is a jump from CCF to God. It would be nice if Pro defined God first and also defined moral perfection. Now, lets simplfy argument[1]:
1. Every contingent fact has an explanation (PSR).
2. It is a contingent fact that some contingent beings exist. Call this fact ‘(E)’.
3. Therefore, (E) has an explanation (from PSR and 2).
4. On pain of circularity, no contingent fact or contingent being could explain (E).
5. If some contingent fact has an explanation, but is not explained by any contingent fact or contingent being, then it must be explained in terms of the free choice of a necessary being.
6. Therefore, (E) must be explained in terms of the free choice of a necessary being (from 3-5).
7. If some fact is explained in terms of the free choice of a necessary being, then there exists a necessary being who chooses freely.
8. Therefore, there exists a necessary being who chooses freely, and this everyone calls ‘God’ (from 6 and 7).
Now, whatever the statements of argument are, it necessitates first cause to be intelligent. But argument does not provide any rational basis for it. And also causality argument is fallacious, because (1) if we assume space and time have beginning, and (2) and we now that everything which begins to exist has a cause, therefor (1) and (2). But we know that if there is no time then there's no causality, causality exists within time.

The second argument is most fallacious, Pro simplified it too much, and made it more fallacious. Using same reasoning:
1. It is possible that Scooby Dooby Doo exists.
2. If it is possible, that SDD exists, then SDD exists.
3. SDD exists.
It is non-sense.

Third argument, naturalism is being false (if it is false) does not prove God exist, naturalism is not only explanation, in order to prove your conclusion, one should disprove all counter-arguments. Simplified version of argument is[2] :
1. If God did not exist, intentional states of consciousness would not exist.
2. Intentional states of consciousness exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
The first premise is argument from ignorance, one need to prove intentional states cannot exist without God (Evolution can do miracles).

My Observation of Pro's argument:
(a) Arguments are neither sound nor strong.
(b) It would be nice if sources are cited.
(c) Pro should define terms. (God, Moral Perfection, Naturalism, Modal Logic and etc.)
(d) Pro should give more comprehensive, detailed, and satisfactory explanations.
(e) There is not too much to answer.

[1] -
[2] -

Debate Round No. 1


I'll be responding to my opponent's responses.

Arg 1:------------

Firstly, he objected to my argument in virtue of me not defining 'God' or 'CCF'. However, I infact did eplicate what the CCF was and will define 'God' towards the end of this round. The CCF was merely the conjunction of contingent facts. You take all the contingent facts which obtain and that's the CCF. Now, the fact that that CCF obtains, is going to itself be a contingent fact which needs its own explanation. It can't be another contingent fact(F) which explains it because then F would be within the CCF and thus have to be self explanatory, but no contingent fact can be self-explanatory, why did F obtain as opposed to fail to obtain? Thus F has to be necessary.

With regards to my opponent's argument, "free choice" is just completely incoherent. My argument is obviously superior since mine actually made sense. I only attribute intentional states, which are things like wants, beliefs, and desires. These intentional states are what explains the existence of the CCF. 'Free choice' is something that i, makes absolutely no sense and ii, would completely violate the PSR since the appeal to a free choice as an explanation is merely an appeal to a non-explanatory dormitive principle.

My opponent talks about causality, but as I've explained we cannot appeal to God as a 'cause' of the universe. Wants, beliefs, and desires don't strictly 'cause' things. They only non-causally EXPLAIN things. Causality is merely a way we model experience.

Arg 2:----------

With regards to my opponent's response to the second argument, he just completely mangles everything. Scooby doo is a contingent being, making my opponent's 2nd premise completely false.

Arg 3:----------

Here, my opponent just completely straw-mans the argument. My real argument, that intentional realism is incompatible with naturalism, went unadressed however, so there's not much to respond to. The argument was merely to undermine what philosophers consider the most plausible alternative to theism. It's only meant to show that intentional states cannot be reduced to natural properties, since the natural sciences can only study dispositions and intentional states like wants, beliefs, and desires are normative concepts. Given that we must admit that non-natural properties exist in order to have beliefs, we must reject metaphysical naturalism. Once more, this argument was not meant to conclude that God exists, just that naturalism is false.

In conclusion, we've seen my opponent do a very poor job of addressing or even properly interacting with the arguments that I've presented. My opponent, however, insists that I need to define a few terms.

God - The morally perfect, omnipotent, and necessarily existing being who actualized the CCF and has knowledge of all facts within the CCF(Basically omniscience).
Morally Perfect - What it means to call God morally perfect is to say that God's intentional states, i.e wants, beliefs, and desires are in perfect conformity to the abstracta, which are the categorically normative moral properties.
CCF - The conjunction of contingent facts. All the contingent facts which obtain.
Naturalism - The philosophical/metaphysical position that the only things which can be known to exist/exist are those which are studied by the natural sciences.
Modal Logic - The logical study of such philosophical concepts as necessity, possibility, and contingency.
Etc - Et cetera, is a Latin expression that means "and other things" or "and so forth."

My source is ''


First you define, then bring evidence, then assess evidence.
None of your deductions proves that God is morally perfect, omnipotent. In order to create universe how much power is needed, infinitely much power, or limit power, if you choose infinite as answer, you need to prove it, if you choose limited as answer, then you cannot say God is omnipotent, because you do not have evidence.
I do not know where from did Pro get "free choice", but is God without free choice God?
"Causality is merely a way we model experience." - before we existed did causality exist, answer is yes, therefore it is not just merely a way we model experience. And causality is important.

I do not know whether you made premises by yourself, or took from somewhere (as you did not cite any source), but they are fallacious. And I used same reasoning.
(a) It is possible that Most Great Evil Being exists.
(b) If it is possible, that MGEB exists, then MGEB exists.
(c) MGEB exists.

There is no straw-man in my argument, I merely say, disproving naturalism does not prove existence of God. Therefore I gave most reasonable argument and then refuted it. And Jerry Fodor did not show any evidence for his argument, therefore I do not have to disprove it.

There are "faith jumps" in Pro's argument, he does not provide evidence in order to rationally assess the evidence.

And Pro did not prove morally perfect God.

Debate Round No. 2


Modal Cosmological Argument_
My opponent asserts that I haven't shown omnipotence or moral perfection with my arguments, but this is clearly false as anyone who has been keeping up with the debate will agree.

"In order to create universe how much power is needed, infinitely much power, or limit power, if you choose infinite as answer, you need to prove it, if you choose limited as answer, then you cannot say God is omnipotent, because you do not have evidence."

Firstly note, that omnipotence analytically follows from the fact that there exists a necessary being who can intentionally actualize CCFs. Secondly, this notion of 'infinite power' is just a complete straw-man and irrelevant to the debate. I will also address this notion of 'evidence' below.

"I do not know where from did Pro get "free choice", but is God without free choice God?"

'Free Choice' seems like a completely incoherent notion. God merely has intentional states and his intentional states are what non-entailingly explain the obtaining of the CCF. Again, what is meant by intentional states here are things like wants, beliefs, and desires.

" "Causality is merely a way we model experience." - before we existed did causality exist, answer is yes, therefore it is not just merely a way we model experience. And causality is important. "

This is just incoherent. 'Before', similarly to 'causality', is merely a phenomenal property and is only meaningful in terms of modelling experience. Noumena aren't temporal, causal, or spatial since we can't attribute experiential/phenomal predicates to the noumena/mind-independent world.

Ontological arguments_
My opponent still grossly misconstrues the argument but tries, what I'm guessing is meant to be, a reductio ad absurdem of the argument. This however, is FILLED with problems. I will briefly sketch out a few of them.

1) Evil is not a great-making property.
2) Given that the MGB is the standard of morality, it's incoherent to for their to be an evil 'MGB'.
3) Assuming that we reformulate his argument to get around 2), it becomes evident that there in fact has to exist ANOTHER MGB which is over and above the ME(Evil)B which has to be the standard of moral perfection. However, since it necessarily follows from an ME(Evil)B that a MGB exists, and we can't have 2 omnipotent beings, it then follows that the MGB is the only omnipotent being which exists.
4) Robert Maydole's modal perfection argument shows that the ME(evil)B is not a coherent MGB, whereas the MGB is a coherent omnipotent being.(

There are a ton of extra problems, but those should suffice for now.

Intentionality argument against Naturalism_
We've yet to see a substantive response to this, only more straw-mans.

My opponent is asking for evidence. But what he doesn't understand is that God is a NECESSARY BEING. What that means is that the probability of him existing is exactly 1, and there therefore can't be any 'evidence' for his existence. Given that God is a necessary being, there are 2 possibilities.
A) God is impossible, and thus cannot exist.(To show this we need to show a strict logical contradiction in the very idea of God)
B) If there's no logical contradiction, it follows that God necessarily exists(which is why the MOA comes in).
Again, evidence cannot raise the probability of a necessary truth, thus my opponent's talk of 'evidence' is inapposite.

Con, after straw-manning and failing to respond substantively to the arguments which I've presented, simply asserts that I've made faith jumps. Presumably there's now way for me to respond to this sort of assertion so I'll leave it alone.
Over to Con!


Omnipotence mean All Power(full), there no straw-man. Free Will (Choice) and Intelligence are importent concepts in defining God.

Cause and Effect relation aren't just notions in our brains, it is real and exists independently in real world.

Who defines what is great-making property, what is not? Is it subjective or objective? If it is subjective, then it is just non-sense, if it is ojective, then you need to prove existence of objective reality.

Is existence of Absolute and Eternal Evil possible? And Why?

There is not so much thing to answer, I wish next round Pro will post more comprehensive argument.
Debate Round No. 3


Con, in his last round, has merely recapitulated issues which I've already addressed.

Con says that omnipotence means 'all powerful', when omnipotence can only be coherently construed in terms of God being 'maximally' powerful. To predicate the property of omnipotence upon God is merely to say that there is no possible world in which a being exists which is more powerful than God, since God is the maximally powerful being. Con also raises the issue of 'free will' being an important predication of God, but this has not been argued for. Perhaps my opponent is operating under some form of Catholicist view of God, but we have no reason to endorse the Catholic view -- the view that God's act of creation was necessarily a 'free' and 'gratuitous act' -- as the correct view of God. Con would first have to defend the coherence of that view and secondly show why we should, omnibus propensis, prefer that view of God -- as opposed to the view I'm sketching out -- in terms of actual argumentation. Con obviously has given no such arguments, as he has not given any arguments at all this entire debate.

Con goes on to merely assert that cause and effect are not merely phenomenal, but in fact apply to noumena(without providing an argument of course). Such a view however, is completely untenable. Once you acknowledge that there's a distinction between the character of experience and the thing that constrains your experience, you're ipso facto committed to saying that the latter cannot be described via experiential predicates, since experiential predication strictly applies to the former, i.e the character of experience. As such, attributing a causal relation is merely a phenomenal/experiential attribution.

Con now brings up the issue of great-making properties. However this is more or less a red herring. The MOA merely relies on the fact that the conjunction of the set of properties, necessary existence, omnipotence, omniscience, and moral perfection are possibly exemplified. Given that Maydole's Modal Perfection argument gives a logical deduction showing this to be the case, we can conclude, with absolute certainty, that God in fact exists. Con responded by saying, 'well, the maximally evil being also seems possible'. However we need to distinguish a prima facie intuition and a logical deduction. While it might seem prima facie possible for the Evil and omnipotent being to exist we, post-analysis, know it can't be the case given the reasons I've sketched out in my previous round -- which my opponent has inexplicably forgot to respond to.

In conclusion, we've seen omnibus propensis reasons to adopt Theism and haven't even observed pro tanto reasons to adopt Atheism. We are thus, ultima facie, -- as human agents who are intrinsically and normatively bound by instrumental rationality -- obliged to accept Theism as justified true belief.


tahir.imanov forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Cancel out Omniscience and Moral Perfection, neither of those can exist and the God of the Bible is not the one you seek for Moral Perfection unless being a perfectly Malevolent, Narcissistic Megalomaniac is Moral Perfection. The Bible actually describes the God as that, it describes itself as such also, when it describes itself as a Jealous, hypocritical, racist, murderous, malevolent, angry tyrant of a Narcissist.
The Bible actually states that other Gods do exist for the God of Abraham to be jealous of.
Which makes more sense when reading those passages.

It is not alone, so that is why the Bible God has genitals (image of man), XD
Posted by dawndawndawndawn 3 years ago
The only thing that fulfills all of the elements of "god" is: "math"
Posted by Pulchritudinous 3 years ago
'Maximal greatness' is just a label that, in this debate, refers to omnipotence, omniscience, moral perfection, and necessary existence Sagey.
Posted by dawndawndawndawn 3 years ago
Sagey, one of the things about this site that makes me shake my head is watching young people
climb the same old idea=stacks that we. already. climbed
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Trouble with Philosophical arguments of the Plato style and this applies to Anselm and Aquinas, where much of Pro's arguments originated. They are entirely Subjective and based on theological Assumptions which have no empirical basis.
The Maximal Greatest Being is purely a subjective assumption, projection from the mind only, nothing whatsoever to do with actual reality.
This is why Theology is Rubbish.
Only subjective delusional notions, nothing worthy of considering as Truth.
Practical Philosophy destroyed those theological arguments over a century ago.
Posted by Pulchritudinous 3 years ago
Soz, ignore those references.
Posted by Pulchritudinous 3 years ago
R2 References:

Joyce, Richard. The Myth of Morality. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Street, Sharon. "Evolution and the Normativity of Epistemic Reasons." Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (2009): 213 " 248.
Posted by CrazyCowMan 3 years ago
Hope this will be a good debate
Posted by Pulchritudinous 3 years ago
That's hilarious! Good luck man!
Posted by tahir.imanov 3 years ago
I will be devil's advocate here and refute Pro (Theist) argument because I believe they are fallacious and I am going to prove it. However I am not an atheist (or Atheist).
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