The Instigator
muffin8or
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
Rational_Thinker9119
Pro (for)
Losing
8 Points

There Exists Either Irrefutable or Reasonable Grounds for Believing in the Existence of God

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
muffin8or
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/26/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,150 times Debate No: 34060
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (3)

 

muffin8or

Con

Definitions

By 'irrefutable' I mean an inescapable conclusion from a set of true premises, i.e. a philosophically sound argument. For example, a standard deductive argument that fits the bill:

Premise 1: All men are mortal

Premise 2: Socrates is a man

Conclusion: Socrates is mortal


By 'reasonable' I mean a situation where the best conclusion is the one that is being argued for, i.e. the best explanation is a given hypothesis. For example, inductive arguments have reasonable, but not inescapable, conclusions.

"All swans we have ever seen are white. Therefore all swans are white"

Note, a reasonable conclusion can be argued against by demonstrating that, though reasonable, it is false (e.g. the discovery of black swans) or by showing that there is a more reasonable conclusion exists. Both types of conclusion (irrefutable and reasonable) need not be formulated in terms of premises and conclusions.

By 'God' I mean the widely accepted God of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) and other Gods which have similar characteristics. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, transcendence, immanence etc. As such, it is insufficient to argue for the existence of a deistic God (one who has had no greater involvement than creating the universe). One must argue that God exists and that God has the basic agreed upon qualities.

It is permissible to argue from within the workings of a specific religion (e.g. arguing from historical incidents of a religion). However, these arguments must stand on their own merit; they may not rely on assumptions from the religion. Similarly, it is permissible to argue from personal experience etc. but these arguments must lead reasonably and logically to the conclusion.

Burden of Proof

The burden of proof lies with the person making the positive claim (i.e. my opponent). It is my opponent's job to present arguments for the existence of God (as defined above) and my job to refute them.

As the burden of proof lies with my opponent, Round 1 WILL be used for arguments. In order for both debaters to have equal footing, my opponent will skip his Round 4 (to compensate for my loss of Round 1). As such, there will be 3 full rounds of debate.

Changing the Definitions/Burden of Proof

If you wish to debate this topic but find the terms unreasonable, feel free to message me directly such that the terms may be changed to a more agreeable state. If you do accept the debate but post-acceptance argue for a change in the terms of the debate (or base your argument around an already supplied definition), you will be considered to have forfeited the debate.

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro


The Modal Ontological Argument

In Christian philosophy, God is commonly adhered to as a maximally great being (of the most perfect being possible).

"When they speak of God, people have traditional meant a personal being; The most perfect one possible." [1]

Thus, if the idea of God is the idea of the greatest conceivable or maximally perfect being – it must be the idea of something that is absolutely independent and unlimited. If we are not thinking of an absolutely independent and unlimited being, we are not thinking of God at all.” – P. Dawson [2]


Modal Logic

In modal logic, we infer that if some entity is possible then this entity is exists in some possible world. To exist in some possible world however, there must also contain no type of contradiction involving this entity [3].

Maximally Great Being

A maximally great being is a being with all of what we would call great making properties (Omnipotence, Omnibenevolence, Omnipotence ect.). Now, it is self evident that it would be greater to exist in all possible worlds rather than simply just one possible world (3 > 2, 4 > 3 ect.). If another being existed in more worlds than another, then that being would be greater. Thus, if a maximally great being exists in at least one possible world, then necessarily, this being exists in all possible worlds (or else, there would be no way to claim this being was maximally great). [4]

The Argument

Lets take a look at the premises of the Ontological Argument to see if they follow logically:

P1: "It is possible that a maximally great being exists."

There is nothing contradictory in the concept of God.

P2: "If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world."

This follows from Modal Logic, as I already explained previously.

P3: "If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world."

This follows from the very concept of a maximally great being, as I explained previously.

P4: "If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world."

If there is not a possible world where this being does not exist, then the being must exist in the actual world. This is because our world is possible (if it was impossible, we would not exist). So, since this being exists in every possible world, the being necessarily exists in the actual world.

P5: "If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists."

This is self-evident.

C: "Therefore, a maximally great being exists."

This conclusion follows logically from all the preceding premises, showing that this argument is a logical proof for the existence of a maximally great being.

Parodies

Some people are under the false impression that this argument can prove anything. For an example, some people think this argument can prove the existence of a maximally great cell phone. However, a cell phone is a contingent but to be maximally great is be necessary. Some may think that it can prove the existence of a maximally great alien, but once again; an extraterrestrial is contingent to nature and we are discussing that which is completely necessary.

Conclusion

Premise 1 of the Modal Ontological Argument is true, thus the argument logically proves the existence of a maximally great being ("God"). The logic is very simple once you understand it, and most objections to the logic seem to be misunderstandings of it. It seems as if we have logical proof of God.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

P1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause
P2: The universe began to exist
C: The universe had a cause [1]

Everything That Begins To Exist Has A Cause

If something begins to exist without a cause, this means something begins to exist without a necessary or sufficient cause. This means, that something began to exist out of absolute nothingness. Now, can something begin to exist out of absolute nothingness? Well, lets assume that this is possible. If this ever happened, then this absolute nothingness must have at least contained within it the potential for something. However, even "potential" is "something" in its own right in this particular context, and it definitely does not fall is line with absolute nothingness (absolute nothingness would lack literally everything, including qualities like "the potential for something to exist"). Thus, it is impossible for something to come from absolute nothingness.

Since the only way it would be possible for something to begin to exist completely uncaused would be if it begins to exist from absolute nothingness (if it begins to exist from anything at all besides absolute nothingness, then that would be the necessary cause), and it it impossible for something to begin to exist from absolute nothingness (even the potential for something, is still something in its own right in this context), then there is no way the first premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument could possibly be false.

The Universe Began To Exist

The Big Bang theory seems to provide compelling support to some people with regards to the universe having a beginning. However, we do not know exactly what was going on before Plank time (10-43 seconds) [5], so there were very plausible scenarios in which the universe could have not have had a beginning at one point. These theories are not plausible anymore however, this is because a paper by Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin demonstrated a definite finite past of the universe independently of any questions hanging regarding Plank time [6].

"It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning" - Alexander Vilenkin [7]

Also, there couldn't have been an infinite amount of past events. A complete infinite number of things is impossible because you could always add one more, and we never would have reached this point if there was an infinite past.

- We can say the universe began to exist scientifically and philosophically.

The Universe Has A Cause

This conclusion follows logically from the first two premises.

KCA Extended: Argument From Mental Causation

We have established that the universe must have had a cause, but why must that cause be God? Well, that which created the material world, could not be material itself. There are only two things that that fit this description; abstract objects and minds. Since abstract objects have no causal powers, a mind must of caused the universe's existence.

KCA Extended: Argument From Personal Causation

If the cause of the universe was just a mechanically operating set of mindless and timeless necessary conditions existing from eternity, then the temporal effect would also exist from eternity as well (the problem is, the universe has not existed for a temporal eternity). The only way to have a timeless cause of some sorts and a temporal effect would be if the cause is a personal agent who freely chooses to create the effect in time. This is analogous to a man sitting in a chair for eternity, and deciding to get up at a random time. It seems, only a personal cause is sufficient to explain the universe.

I have demonstrated that a personal mind caused the universe to begin. This is what the world means, when we speak of God. Thus, I have successfully demonstrated God's existence with this argument.

Conclusion

I have met my burden of proof.

Sources

[1] [Video Source]
[2] https://vle.ucs.org.uk...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://www.doxa.ws...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
[7] Alexander Vilenkin: Many Worlds in One (P. 176)
Debate Round No. 1
muffin8or

Con

In this round I will respond only to the Ontological argument. Next round, I will criticise the Kalam Cosmological Argument (the world limit means that splitting them up will allow for more detail)

The Ontological Argument

To the ontological argument I will make three main critiques, plus the response to Pro's pre-empt of 'parodies'.

1) Circular reasoning

Pro says:

"In modal logic, we infer that if some entity is possible then this entity is exists in some possible world. To exist in some possible world however, there must also contain no type of contradiction involving this entity"

The criteria, therefore, for existing in a possible world is that there is no contradiction involving this entity. Pro argues that, because God exists in a possible world, there is no contradiction in God and thus there is no contradiction in saying he exists in all possible worlds.

The justification for God existing in all possible worlds is granted by his non-contradictory status (as inferred from his existence in a possible world). However, the justification for his existence in a possible world is that he is non-contradictory (as stated in Premise one of Pro's argument).

If I were to put it in plainer terms:

"God exists in all possible worlds because he exists in one possible world"

"God exists in one possible world because there is no contradiction in God"

However:

"God can only exist in a possible world if he exists in all possible worlds (i.e. there is no contradiction)" This, however, is what is trying to be proven in the first place.

We must remember Pro's definition for existing in a possible world: "To exist in some possible world however, there must also contain no type of contradiction involving this entity"

Thus, for a God, defined as existing in all possible worlds (maximally great), to exist in a possible world, he must exist in all possible worlds (else that which exists in one possible world does not match the definition of God). If he did not exist in all possible worlds, he would not be able to exist in one. Thus existing in one possible world cannot be the reason for existing in all (as the reason for existing in one must be that he exists in all).

This is the precise flaw in logic. The ontological argument is difficult for people to understand because this flaw is well hidden.

2) Overload Objection

With the same logic proposed by Pro, we can define any object into existence, so long as it is maximally great. The common example is of the maximally great island.

P1: "It is possible that a maximally great island exists"
P2: "If it is possible that a maximally great island, then a maximally great island exists in some possible world."
P3: "If a maximally great island exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world."
P4: "If a maximally great island exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world."
P5 "If a maximally great island exists in the actual world, then a maximally great island exists."

This form of logic leads to the conclusion that indeed the perfect cell phone or alien exists.

Response to parodies

Pro says:

"Some people think this argument can prove the existence of a maximally great cell phone. However, a cell phone is a contingent but to be maximally great is be necessary."

God is also contingent. What makes him 'necessary' is defining him as maximally great. We could equally define him as the Greek Gods; fallible. Thus a fallible god is contingent while a maximally great God is necessary. Equally, a phone is contingent while a maximally great phone is necessary. Pro says it himself: "to be maximally great is be necessary". As such a phone defined as maximally great is necessary while a other phones are contingent.

The overload objection stands.

3) Definition of maximal

Pro says:

"Now, it is self evident that it would be greater to exist in all possible worlds rather than simply just one possible world (3 > 2, 4 > 3 ect.)."

It is not self evident. It is perhaps widely accepted but it is not self evident. Characteristics do not follow a numerical scale as Pro implies. I accept that 3 > 2, but why is existence 3 and non-existence 2? Take the following example.

Say I am a thief. It would be better for me for a God not to be able to see and judge my actions than it would be for a God to see and judge my actions. As such, a greater being that Pro's definition of God is a God which is not omnipotent. Therefore, the maximally great being is not omnipotent.

Pro has taken the liberty of defining God according to his standards. As Pro has offered not objective description of God, his definition cannot be said to be superior to the thief. As an atheist, God not existing would be greater than God existing for me (else I would go to hell) so the ontological argument leads to the conclusion that God necessarily does not exist. (As maximal entails necessity and also non-existence). The following argument demonstrates counterfactually why God doesn't exist.

1) God is the maximal being.

2) A being that gives cookies to everyone and cures all cases of childhood cancer is greater than one that doesn't.

3) However, childhood cancer is not always cured

4) Therefore the maximal being does not exists.

As the idea of maximally great is subjective (e.g. A being that cures childhood cancer is greater than one that doesn't, no?), using this subjective idea to reach an objective conclusion is more than dubious.

Conclusion

The circular reasoning of "he exists in all because he exists in one because he exists in all" demonstrates that Pro's argument is illogical. It is the reason why the ontological is criticised as defining God into existence, i.e. defining him as maximally great is defining him to exist. This point also demonstrates why the overload objection works. We can define anything into existence.

Point 3 on the definition of maximal is a broader critique that also shows why Pro's argument is a illogical.

In order to uphold the ontological argument Pro needs to do the following:

1) Resolve the issue of God "existing in all because he exists in one but needs to exist in all to exist in one" circular problem (i.e. why is his argument different to defining God into existence) in such a way that the overload objection no longer works.

2) Outline precisely why his definition of a maximal being should be used over a different one (e.g. one that gives cookies and cures cancer)

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

I tried to play devil's advocate but, it so hard to argue for a position you know is false. Pro made some good points, I am going to have to concede.
Debate Round No. 2
muffin8or

Con

A true shame. I've already written my response to the cosmological argument. So here it is. I suggest, if Pro has no further comments, that we quickly reply to each round in order to end the debate.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

I will cover 3 main points and 2 minor points.

1) Unsubstantiated Premise 1

Pro says:

"P1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause"

I now challenge pro to demonstrate one object that began to exist due to a cause. Note, this cannot include reshaping or reordering of matter or energy (like a carpenter making a chair out of wood). This must be an ex nihilo (out of nothing) creation due to a cause. The laws of thermodynamics forbid this in our universe. The very laws of physics say that Pro will not be able to demonstrate even one instance of Premise 1. It will be interesting to see his response.

Furthermore, Pro faces the problem of induction. Even if Pro could demonstrate that one object began because of a cause, the burden is on him to show that things beginning to exist necessarily have a cause. The only reason we should think that everything thing that begins to exist has a cause is if it necessary.

Premise 1 is wholly unsubstantiated.

2) The failure of language

The notion of causality has a fundamental time component. One instance there isn't, another there is (due to the effect of another thing). However, time is a component of our universe as fundamental as space. Time was created along with space at the big bang. Hence why in Physics, the two are unified into one; spacetime.

As such, it makes no sense to talk about causality if there is no time (i.e. before there was a universe). Perhaps there is no causality at all without a universe.

3) Hypotheses and assumptions

Pro has done my work for me. He has argued that it is impossible for nothingness to exist but that which exists is not necessarily God. Pro says:

"However, even "potential" is "something" in its own right in this particular context, and it definitely does not fall is line with absolute nothingness (absolute nothingness would lack literally everything, including qualities like "the potential for something to exist")."

As we know that the universe exists, 'before' it there must be the potential to exist. If there must be this potential to exist, it is either eternal, or had the potential to exist. But then potential for the potential to exist to exist either always existed or had the potential to exist... etc.

To answer the question 'what caused the universe?' pro has argued that the best explanation is God, a being that never began to exist but always existed. Why then, could that which always existed be the potential to exist? From here, we can speculate that the universe 'caused' itself (remember, causality is pretty much meaningless), or that zero energy universes[1] (as ours may be) can arise spontaneously and without contradiction from an all permeating eternal (as Pro himself demonstrated) potential.

I may not agree with this theory but it sure is more plausible than an omnipotent, sentient, omnipresent God. It makes very few assumptions. The assumption it makes is that universes may exist within the potential so long as their total energy is 0. Pro's conclusion assumes the existence of the most complex being conceivable. Occam's razor would tell us to discard the hypothesis with the most and greatest assumptions. It seems that the God hypothesis should be discarded in favour of the zero energy universe/ potential hypothesis. The point here is that there exist plenty of theories that make fewer assumptions about the 'cause' of the Big Bang.

The reason why people stick to the idea of God is because they are comfortable with it. People are surrounded by religion and thus swallow the idea of an infinitely complex eternal being. However, because this being is eternal and infinitely complex, any hypothesis which fully explains the origin of the universe is a better one. 'Spontaneous generation' fully explains the universe and is simpler than an infinitely complex God. God is the worst answer to the question 'where did the universe come from?'

4) Mental causation

Minds do not have causal powers. I cannot affect any causal change with the power of my mind. Why does Pro think that if there was a cause there must have been a mind when no mind we have ever encountered has any causal effect?

5) Personal causation

I encourage Pro to reread his paragraph on personal causation. It makes no sense. Why does the existence of time demonstrate that God is personal (involved in human lives)?

Conclusion

The Kalam Cosmological argument does not stand. Its first premise if fully unsubstantiated. The language of causality assumes causal events without time (even though causality has a fundamental component of time). The argument does not necessarily lead to the idea that God exists; God is a solution to the problem of how the universe came to be (this falls under the second type of argument I discussed in the terms of the debate). However, all other hypotheses (including spontaneous generation of the universe), making fewer and smaller assumptions (as the assumption of maximally great is the greatest assumption possible) are better than the God hypothesis.

If Pro wishes the Kalam Cosmological Argument to stand he must:

1) Substantiate the first premise. This includes demonstrating one instance of ex nihilo causal creation and why ex nihilo existence necessarily must have a cause.

2) Explain why a model of classical causality must be retained when talking about before time existed.

3) Why 'God' is the best solution to the question raised by the argument (what caused the universe?)

Pro has not (even if all arguments were granted to him) fulfilled his burden of proof. He has not shown why God would be personal (involved in human affairs). His description of God could easily be a deistic one (one who created the universe and left).

Pro has not demonstrated that God's existence is necessary or that God is the best solution to a problem. As such, he has not shown 'irrefutable or reasonable grounds for believing in the existence of a God'. His ontological argument is logically flawed and his Kalam Cosmological argument has an unsubstantiated premise and his solution (God) is a bigger assumption than other hypotheses.

Citations

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...

Rational_Thinker9119

Pro

I already lost this debate, but I just wanted to correct Pro on something. The KCA states that everything that begins to exist has a cause, not just everything that begins to exist ex nihilo has cause. Also, I caused something to begin to exist today; a monster cookie for my little nephew. All I had was a bunch of dough and no monster shaped dough, I pressed the cutter down, and the monster shaped dough began to exist. Here is William Lane Craig's definition of begins to exist:

"e comes into being at t if and only if (i) e exists at t, (ii) t is the first time at which e exists, (iii) there is no state of affairs in the actual world in which e exists timelessly, and (iv) e’s existing at t is a tensed fact."

This would apply to things that begin to exist ex nihilo, or ex materia. Thus, there is no fallacy of equivocation.


Debate Round No. 3
muffin8or

Con

Ex Nihilo/Ex Materia

The problem you face is that all examples Pro can give of things beginning to exist are ex materia. Thus the principle of beginning to exist requiring a cause holds for ex materia creation. However, the beginning of the universe is ex nihilo (as there was nothing material for it to come from). The principle applies to objects within the universe but not the universe itself.

I don't need to argue that the universe did or didn't come into being. I have to argue that the type of coming into being of the universe (ex nihilo), is not the type for physical objects (ex materia).

I will concede that ex materia creation requires a cause. However, Pro needs to demonstrate that ex nihilo creation requires a cause in the same way ex materia creation requires a cause. As the creation of the universe is the only ex nihilo object, it appears to impossible for pro to do this.

Minds and causal powers

I will reply to the minds and causal powers thing mentioned in the comments here.

Pro said:

"Since abstract objects have no causal powers, a mind must of caused the universe's existence."

I was asking why Pro would think that minds have any more causal power than abstract objects. We have no reason to believe minds have causal powers any more than abstract objects.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Skeptikitten 4 years ago
Skeptikitten
Shame I can't vote on a concession fairly. The Ontological Argument is just ridiculous.
Posted by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
"Minds do not have causal powers. I cannot affect any causal change with the power of my mind. Why does Pro think that if there was a cause there must have been a mind when no mind we have ever encountered has any causal effect?"

Con, can you explain the above to me? It threw me off guard, and I have no idea what you could be talking about.
Posted by Kwhite7298 4 years ago
Kwhite7298
Also, would the PRO need to argue that God exists or that irrefutable or reasonable grounds for believing in God exist?
Posted by Kwhite7298 4 years ago
Kwhite7298
You're currently not accepting messages, but I just have one question:

What is the official resolution for this debate?

Thanks.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by MattHarrison 4 years ago
MattHarrison
muffin8orRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: His name is rational thinker after all...
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
muffin8orRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: concession. one point for conduct for conceding gracefully.
Vote Placed by silvertechfilms 4 years ago
silvertechfilms
muffin8orRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Logic