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RFD for existence of God debate

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2/7/2016 1:01:35 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
This is an RFD for the following debate between Hayd and Jerry947:

The structure in this debate was really confusing and it's really hard for a judge to vote under such a structure. Allowing defense only in the final round of argumentation and restricting direct rebuttals there is basically allowing for new arguments in the final round, which judges don't usually vote on because of the lack of power for the other side to respond. At least in a five-round debate, there's a second rebuttal round, which means there aren't new arguments. This was a four-round debate, so the structure was overly restrictive. I urge both debaters to refrain from using such a structure.

Straight up, this wasn't a good debate. So many of the arguments weren't explained clearly. Hayd's explanation of eternalism's link to God was extremely confusing, and I wouldn't have understood a bit of it without outside knowledge of what eternalism is, et cetera. In his round 4, Hayd seems to defend a universe that exists infinitely, literally an "eternal universe," but that conflicts with his Rd. 2 explanation of eternalism. Jerry's arguments are poorly explained as well -- none of the premises of the KCA are justified until much later in the debate, and the P1 is still pretty vague. The "nothingness" argument is the same intuition Hayd was talking about, and a beginning isn't a cause.

What are the burdens in this debate? The resolution is a positive claim, which implies that the greater burden is on Pro. The res. implies a burden on Pro to make offense to demonstrate it, and on Con to refute Pro's arguments.

Pro's case begins with the KCA. Pro just lists the premises, and says a cause of the universe is best explained by God. Pro doesn't justify any of the premises that lead to the conclusion. Everything Pro says is a bare assertion. If a judge is not to consider arguments not made in the debate, the KCA fails right there (and I would discount it if not for the further explanation given later). Pro then says truth requires a mind since it's a statement of truth, which makes sense initially, though I do have some doubt on the premise that says all truth is a statement -- the analogy seems like a hasty generalization (and seems to contradict P3, since a "universal truth" isn't a subjective statement - it's universal by definition). Furthermore, I don't see how a "universal mind" is required for a "universal truth" -- for a deductive argument, it doesn't follow. Pro finally argues that morality is objective, and God is the sole explanation for such abstract moral realism, both of which aren't clearly demonstrated as true.

Con's case talks about eternalism (why the universe never began and so doesn't need a cause), and provides an argument for God's having to be necessary. Both of these arguments aren't really clear -- the first one doesn't explain why eternalism entails the lack of the universe's beginning, and the second doesn't show how omnipotence allows the leap from possibility to necessity.

Just from the cases, I'm leaning Pro.

Pro's rebuttals basically show much of my analysis. Pro says that science demonstrates a beginning of the universe regardless of "eternalism," which doesn't seem to have an explicit link to the universe's beginning. He justifies this via red-shifts and using the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The "time has a relative aspect" response is irrelevant and quite incoherent; I'm not voting on it. Con responds to this rebuttal with the idea that the Second Law doesn't prohibit a beginning, only proves an end, which I agree with. Con's response to the redshift argument challenges some basic assumptions; he says just because the universe was infinitely small doesn't mean it didn't exist at some point. (Pro fails to clarify that "infinitely small" = "nonexistent," and that lack of explanation is exploited by Con.) Still, eternalism isn't too strong an offensive argument, because it isn't really explained -- its jump from eternalism to no-beginning is strange. Pro also responds to the reverse MOA saying a leap from possibility to necessity is too huge and unjustified. Con notes that Pro drops the point about omnipotence, and while I concede that, the omnipotence point doesn't significantly help Con in justifying the reverse MOA. I don't buy its explanation. While "necessary existence" could have been used by Con to justify this, there's no definition given within the debate.

Con resoundingly refutes the KCA by proving that Pro is generalizing a cause of the universe, and that speculating about a cause of the universe is incoherent because sans the universe, there isn't time, so there's no coherence to speculating a "cause." The same argument would also refute any kind of beginning to the universe. Pro's P2 is equally unjustified. I don't buy the KCA.

I don't buy Pro's "truth argument," because of the logical leap from (c) to (d), which Con points out. It's a non-sequitur. The third premise doesn't entail the fourth one. Pro misinterprets this to mean (c) is false, but that's a straw man: Pro concedes the truth of "universal truth" existence, but merely the existence of universal truths doesn't necessitate a "universal" cause. Furthermore, I don't buy that every truth is a statement: just because stated truth is a statement doesn't mean universal truth needs to be, which is also something Con points out.

The axiological argument from morality is more contentious. Pro argues that objective moral values exist, and that God is the best explanation for them. Con responds with Plato's dilemma, as to whether (a) morality is subjective because there's a mind grounding it, or (b) morality is objective regardless of God. Pro rejects that dichotomy and says God is inherently moral, so objective morality derives from it. That isn't explained at all, and I don't buy it because of the lack of clear explanation as to how that works: if God is inherently moral, that entails the second horn of the dilemma, so it can't follow that God is the source of morality. I realize that this wasn't really brought up in the debate, but that's a result of the structure not allowing Con to respond: the Euthyphro dilemma inherently refutes this, so I brought it up.

There seems to be no offense left. I read this debate multiple times to decide the vote. I wanted to vote on the issue of the proof burden, but it wasn't clear as to who had the proof burden. But I realized that Con does have little offense left: the offensive rebuttal as to a "cause" being incoherent without time. Since Pro concedes that there's no time outside the universe, and their nothingness argument is exactly the kind of argument which is an appeal to intuition, a cause of the universe is incoherent. That's pretty offensive. I can vote Con on that.

Con also wins on the burdens. At last, I decided that Pro had the greater burden just because this is a fact claim. Pro's arguments don't fulfill their burden, since they've been refuted. Even if I *bought* Pro's arguments, they don't work because they don't fulfill the requirements of the res. to uphold that God is omnipotent, omniscient, has necessary existence, etc. Not every property of God is justified under Pro's arguments.

Pro doesn't have any offense remaining. Con has a small piece of offense within their rebuttals left. The former also means Pro hasn't fulfilled their burden. I vote Con.
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