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There is no rational path from deism to theism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/17/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,784 times Debate No: 6957
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




I think the a topic of whether or not the universe had a designer or designers and the issue of the first uncaused cause are all very interesting and worth a serious debate, maybe in some other topic.
Nevertheless even if one grants deism as rational (not that I do) it is very unclear how one can make a rational argument for any particular religion from this point. People many times fail to notice this fact, but the distance from arguing for an entity or entities that designed and started the universe to arguing for a specific god such as the biblical one is many light years away.

Note that even if it were possible to go from the designer/starter god or gods to a personal god (not that I see how) which cares about human affairs and interferes in the world, in the form of miracles, it would still be impossible to show which of our religions is correct. Do remember that their claims are incompatible after all.

Even if we could somehow narrow it down to the religions that are practiced today, it would still be impossible to know which of them are correct. How about "Sathya Sai Baba" the god man ? The current estimates are that he has around 6,000,000 followers, some argue that there are up to 100,000,000 followers, many of them claim that he is a true miracle worker and they have seen his amazing miracles !
Imagine a person like this Sathya Sai Baba living 2000 years ago, when we had no knowledge of science. If anything, believing in Sathya Sai Baba claims is more rational than believing in the Jewish, Christian or Muslim claims since, at least, the people that claim Sathya Sai Baba is a god man are alive today and can be interviewed. At least we know for sure that this person exists.

The fact of the matter is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Ancient eye witnesses, hearsay, or people just being certain of something to be true are just not good enough to be considered evidence, not to mention extraordinary evidence. If you think I am wrong then we all need to be believing in UFOs, Big foot, Vampires and Sathya Sai Baba, of course.

So, having said all that, I am now really interested to see how a rational argument can be made from deism to theism to a specific religion on rational grounds without resorting to "leaps of faith", which are basically the willingness to hold a believe in the absence of evidence, and could make anything possible, including invisible pink unicorns.

Atheism is merely a default position "to not believe in any unproven claims", so for a theist to argue for his hypothesis he must make the following rational path:
1. Atheism, non-belief
2. Deism a belief in a designer or designers that started the universe
3. A personal god that cares about human affairs and makes miracles happen
4. A specific religion which is the claim that god wrote specific ancient books or inspired ancient people to write these books and that all of these books are in fact god's word, none of them are fictional, and that they must be followed without exception.

This entire path is one that has never been seriously attempted.


So, my stance is that there is a rational path from deism to theism. In layman's terms, there is a logical way for people to choose specific religions, starting from atheism (no belief) to deism (there is a higher power) to theism (Specific higher power)

My main contention is this: Some people have no choice about which god they choose. In many cases, at times before the child even realizes they could choose, a specific religion is drilled into their brains. The extreme examples would be those of the Middle East, where your basically 'this religion' or dead. Islam is a Jewish nation, just like Iraq is Muslim, and the majority of the West is Christian. Funny thing is, even though all three of these major religions technically worship the same God, they persist in arguing, many time violently, about who's right. But that's off the subject. The main point is that, even in America, children are forced (sometimes unwittingly) to believe their parents faith. So, in theory, this does follow your model. A baby is really an Atheist, because they don't believe in anything. True they really can't because they have no concept of what anything is anyway, but still. Once they grow older, their parents start to 'brainwash' them into believing their faith. They'll have the children go to Sunday School, have them watch Veggie Tales or Adventures in Odyssey, using the same tactics other children shows use to teach. This makes the child believe, in the simplest terms, that there is a god. Finally, once the child is able to freely think and process information, they learn EXACTLY what they believe in. For instance, in the Catholic faith, they believe in Purgatory (the semi-hell to make up for your sins until they've been paid for and then you can go to heaven) whereas Mormons think that there is only a certain amount of spots left in Heaven, and you best get your reservation in now. Others that follow a Calvinist approach 'know' that there is an elect, or that God's already chosen who will go to heaven or hell even before they're born and can live out their life. As ridiculous as some of these seem to us, others see them as perfectly logical, because they've been made to think it's right by their own upbringing. This is one path that causes so many to go into a specific theistic belief: parental upbringing.

Now then, let us assume a child (our child) has not been brainwashed and has gone through their life as an unwitting atheist (they don't realize they are, they just are). This person will most likely have friends, the majority of which follows under the above category of religion zombies. Their usual main goal is to convert, something they will try once they realize our child is a 'non-believer'. They know them well enough to relate their teachings into the personal life of our child. They will first make their god seem appealing, and then use the scare tactics, the favorite of which is 'burning in hell'. One of these two, if they work, will cause our child to turn to that faith, either out of fear or jubilation. After they've accepted this god, is when they learn the specifics. This is sometimes incorporated into the conversion process. The conversion won't work, unless our child's personal stances agree with the churches.

There are several Christian churches, as stated above, with individual beliefs. Do these mean they are what's right with god? No. God didn't form the moron church, Joseph Smith did. Supposedly, Jesus started the Catholic Church, the predominant church for hundreds of years, before Martin Luther broke off and started the first Protestant (meaning protest) church. Since then, members have broken off continually, forming their own churches that 'are right' because the believe it. They don't even have to base it off the bible, as they have been known to omit certain passages and even entire books of the bible to suit their needs. From there, it's just a matter of taking your own personal beliefs, and matching them to a church. If that fails they'll form their own, which can say literally anything about god and state it as fact. Conservatives have a habit of joining Evangelical churches, because they believe Gays are going to hell, God is Pro-America and supports the war, and so on. Another rationale: people chose the religion that suits them most, not necessarily which is 'right'.

The same process follows for independent conversion. Meaning they aren't converted by another, but just feel this magical connection to god. These usually occur after a life threatening situation, or in the midst of 'hard times'. Again, the conversion to a specific diesis usually is dependent on how much of the churches stances already match their own. But this situation falls under the 'leaps of faith' that you wish to ignore.

So really, it isn't about which religion is right, because we never will know, and never could. This 'rational convergence' into a specific religion is not based off of either right or wrong, but which suits the person at the time. So, this stepping stone path to religion as you describe at the end of your argument, happens all the time, most often unknowingly. That is how one 'rationally' chooses a religion: by force or personal preference.

Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for your response.

This is a bit funny you describe verbosely your concept of how people reach a specific religion and sum up with the following:
"This 'rational convergence' into a specific religion is not based off of either right or wrong, but which suits the person at the time"
Well, if that is what you think you really shouldn't have chosen this debate since we are both in full agreement.
You are basically also taking a pro stand with regard to the topic title so why did you choose this debate ???

two notes for you:
"The extreme examples would be those of the Middle East, where your basically 'this religion' or dead"
Well I assure you this is not true for the entire middle east.
What is true is that within some fundamentalist Islamic countries like Iran you can not leave Islam, or you are killed.
Note that there are Jewish and Christian minorities living, even in Iran, and they are not forced to become Muslims.

"Islam is a Jewish nation"
I don't even know what you are talking about ???
Can you explain what this means ?


You asked if there was a rational path, and I gave t to you. It happens just like in the order you contended it could not. You said there is not, meaning there is not a way one could turn into a theist from being an atheist in that order. I described several methods on how it could. We, therefore, do not agree. You do not think someone could do that and I did. Now, with your final round, since you just wasted this one, is to prove that my use of your ration path is not actually rational. My side as Con has been fulfilled and now it is your turn.


Educate yourself. Now, I understand there is always an acceptation to the rule, but I am talking about generalities. Many parts of the Middle East are governed according to a specific church, where basic freedoms we take for granted are suppressed, like freedom of religion.

2) My mistake, I meant Israel.

So back to the real debate, you must now prove, in one round, that my examples are not ones of a rational path to theism. My main point was that the right religion will never be known, and that people chose their religion of choice based on personal preference, if that option is open to them. While you may not agree that that is right, it is still a rationale. If you are arguing about the 'right' religion then that is a different topic for a different time. But right now we are discussing how one can logically chose their path to any type of religion, be it Christian or otherwise. I await your final response.
Debate Round No. 2


I am sorry, but it seems you completely misunderstood my argument,
perhaps I didn't clarify myself well enough.
I never said that an atheist could not become a theist,
that would be a stupid argument because there are many atheists that became theists.
However this does not prove that there is a rational path to theism at all.
Your job is to show the evidence and rational arguments one could use to prefer one religion over another.
Not the methods by which it is possible to appeal to one's feelings to convince him to make a leap of faith to a specific religion.
I am talking about showing that something is actually "true" by methods of evidence based rational
not just making a leap of faith to something that may be "worth believing".
What I was expecting was that someone would try to provide some physical or historical evidence that would support his specific religious claims.
Explaining the methods by which churches or synagogues attract people to their preachings is totally irrelevant.
You really missed the entire point of the debate.

Thanks for those interesting links but they do not support your claim that in the middle east "your basically 'this religion' or dead".
Does Israel, for example, operate in this manner ? FYI, the percentage of atheists living in Israel is higher than that of the U.S.
but this has nothing to do with our debate anyway.


1) Perhaps the debate was not so clear, but I argued on the argument you had, not the one you wanted to have. As pro, your stance is based off the topic, meaning you affirm that there is no rational path from deism to theism, or from believing in a god to a specific faith. You then state that we can't know which religion is correct, and that we need evidence, concluding there is no way anyone could choose a religion without it. I showed exactly how and why someone could in several different scenarios, without resorting to leaps of faith. My examples all showed how they were willing to believe in a religion by way of teaching, a form of evidence. They did not just up and say "Well, looks I believe in god!" They all had to be persuaded, and believed the evidence that was provided by their converters. Each example followed your path that you gave in the conclusion of R1. If you wanted to argue that there was no way to chose the right religion, you should have said so in the topic and resolution, something along the lines of "There is no rational way that one could choose the correct religion". Instead, you argued that there was no rational path, in which I showed you there were, even if they did not fall under your standards. In conclusion, I may have missed your idea on what this debate was about, but I argued based off the subject you provided to the best of my ability. I wish you the best of luck on making your debates more clear, and hold to my end of the resolution that there is a ration path from deism to theism.

2) Apparently you missed all the parts were it said "religious persecution". Meaning if you did not follow the majority religion of the region, you got picked on, most often in violent ways.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by jason_hendirx 8 years ago
It wasn't even a very complicated main point. I understood it immediately, and summed it up in 1 sentence.
Posted by jason_hendirx 8 years ago
If you can not fulfill even the most basic requirement of debating someone, then you deserve to lose, /discussion. It's like playing against a football team that never shows up to games.
Posted by InquireTruth 8 years ago
I agree with you Jason, by why award him ALL points. J/w
Posted by jason_hendirx 8 years ago
>you are arguing that there is no logical path to choosing a religion, no matter what it is?

If you take the starting point to be that the universe was created, "Yahweh created it" does not follow.

If you don't understand your opponent's point, then I have no choice but to vote pro.
Posted by FalseReality 8 years ago
So, from my understanding of your debate, you are arguing that there is no logical path to choosing a religion, no matter what it is?
Posted by theitalianstallion 8 years ago
Break up the argument!! It's very hard to read in the block format you're using.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by JustCallMeTarzan 8 years ago
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Total points awarded:30