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RFD - Sarcastic vs Uther - God's Existence

tejretics
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1/8/2016 2:17:44 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
***This is the RFD for the following debate between SarcasticMethod and UtherPenguin: http://www.debate.org...***

The debate wasn't really good; lots of confusion and insufficiently explained arguments. It was a pretty messy debate, and the formatting didn't help much either."

Since this was a 7-point debate, I will analyze each of the points, and where/why I awarded which ones.

Who had better conduct?

Conduct was relatively clean on both sides of this debate. Both sides were very civil with each other, and their general demeanor did not convey any misconduct. Nonetheless, Pro forfeited rounds in this debate. While, admirably, he did not actually allow the time to end and forfeited the round, and, to save Con's time, passed a round, it was still a forfeit. By convention, I award the conduct point to Con due to Pro's forfeiture.

Who had better spelling and grammar?

Neither side made any major spelling errors or grammatical errors. I didn't notice any major errors at all. There may have been a few minor errors, but none were enough to merit awarding this point. As such, I tie this point.

Who had better arguments?

On balance, I believe that Con had the better arguments in debates. Pro has the greater burden in this debate. Con's only burden is to refute Pro's arguments. Pro's job is to provide -- and defend -- positive arguments. Pro fails to do this. Pro's sole argument is the KCA, which rests on each of its premises. Con challenges the first premise arguing by the law of causality being descriptive, and Pro misses the point of the rebuttal, arguing from two irrelevant angles. Since the first premise isn't necessarily true, Pro doesn't successfully defend the KCA. As such, I vote Con. Pro fails to fulfill their burden.

The full reasoning for my arguments decision is below.

The debate basically comes down to two issues:

1) Whether the law of causality is true

The KCA presented relies on its premises. A single premise being false is sufficient to render the argument refuted. The first premise of the KCA says "every effect needs a cause." Pro says that this is a basic element to understanding physics. His primary justification of the law of cause and effect is intuitive; all we observe has a cause and effect, and that's a fundamental assumption in science. He further argues that Newton's Third Law, that "every action has an equal and opposite reaction," also entails that every effect has a cause. He uses an analogy of a rock jumping in air: he says, "For example, a rock would not simply jump in the air. A cause is required, an action or force must have moved the rock to the air, for example someone may have thrown the rock in the air or the ground may have erupted, hence causing the rock to fly into the air." The analogy is clearly explained, and I would buy it if there wasn't a refutation. But, of course, there is.

Con responds by creating a distinction between "prescriptive laws" and "descriptive laws." He says that a descriptive law is merely an assumption in science that describes the way things usually are, as opposed to a prescriptive law. The law of cause/effect is merely a way things usually are, and there's no way to conclude that it's *necessarily* true. The law of cause and effect is a descriptive law. The premise says every effect "needs" a cause. The necessity is defeated here.

I don't buy Pro's defense. Pro has two non-compelling responses: (a) that Con concedes that it's a law, therefore it's true, and (b) Con must prove that the law of causality is *not* true, instead of merely saying it's not necessarily true. The first response isn't compelling because it's a misunderstanding of the argument. Con's *entire argument* was about a "law" not being necessarily true; a descriptive law isn't necessarily true. The second response is merely shifting the burden of proof; the rules establish that Pro has the greater burden, and the resolution is a fact-claim -- therefore entailing that it's up to Pro to prove the resolution as true. Pro's burden is greater. Refuting the first premise in such a way is sufficient because that means the premise isn't necessarily true, therefore the conclusion isn't proven.

For those reasons, the kalam argument fails.

2) If free will entails that God and evil can coexist

Con presents the problem of evil as a reason to believe God does not exist. Note that Con is not compelled to provide any offense. The burden of proof rests on Pro, and, as such, Con's sole burden is to refute Pro's arguments. The mere fact that all of Pro's offense has failed means Pro has not fulfilled their burden, and, as such, I vote Con anyhow. Nonetheless, I'll address this. Con's argument is that God is "morally perfect," but he created evil, which means one property is contradictory.

Pro responds saying God gave humans free will, and *humans* created evil. Con then says God puts evil in the reach of humans, and then punishes them for it. He uses an analogy of a child being given ice cream by a parent, and then being punished by the parent for eating the ice cream. Pro responds saying the child disobeyed the explicit order to not eat the ice cream, therefore it is just for the child to be punished. But it seems like Pro misses the point: God *created* evil and left it in the reach of humans. The idea of "evil" existing was because of God. That's what the analogy seems to convey.

Regardless, Con doesn't seem to explain the argument clearly. God is morally perfect, and evil exists. So what? Is "creating evil" an evil act? What qualifies as evil? Con is very vague with the argument in itself. One can't hold Pro to refute such a vague argument that doesn't actually manage to refute the resolution. As such, I'm tying this issue.

I vote Con because of Pro's greater burden. Pro fails to fulfill their burden in proving that the KCA proves the likelihood of God's existence. He misses the point of Con's rebuttal at premise 1. Therefore, I vote Con.

Who had more reliable sources?

Boths sides used some citations and references. The citations on both sides were even on being reliable. While Con did use some blogs, they weren't so unreliable and ineffective as to merit awarding Pro the sources point, especially since Pro's usage of sources was not very impactful to the debate. On balance, sources were not really a major factor in this debate, and, therefore, were not really relevant to my decision.

As such, I award one point for better conduct and three points for better arguments to Con. Happy to clarify this RFD.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
tejretics
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1/8/2016 2:20:23 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
As a disclaimer, I was requested to vote on this by UtherPenguin.
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass