The Instigator
Dhides3
Pro (for)
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0 Points
The Contender
philochristos
Con (against)
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"Does philosophy and science work together to offer compelling evidence for the existence of God?"

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/27/2018 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 957 times Debate No: 113197
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
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Dhides3

Pro

The past has to be finite. If the universe never began to exist, then the number of the past events in the history of the universe is infinite. If all events are infinite then you cannot have infinite numbers of past events because it leads to absurdity. The universe must have a first event. You cannot have an infinite number of events this means that the universe must have a cause, it must have a first event. Based on the metaphysical principle something cannot come from nothing and therefore there must be a creator.

At the beginning of the Universe, the Universe had a low level of entropy. This means that it was extremely complex (Siegel, 2017). However, in the present day, we find that the Universe has a high entropy, meaning that it isn't as complex. So, Cosmologists all have been left with one great question: Why the change? The second law of thermodynamics states that the energy in the universe is gradually moving towards disorder" (Jha, 2013). To put simply, this means that eventually, things balance each other out over time. The universe at its beginning was complex and had a low entropy.

Stephen Hawkings has stated, "a change in one part in a million, million would make the difference between recollapse and everlasting expansion" (Gangadean, 2008). In the high level of entropy, even if one single thing was absent, then we would not be here today. If even one small thing was missing in the equation of the universe, then life would not exist at all (Lewin, 2016). The universe was made in perfect tuning, any less or more would"ve resulted in non-life. In this exact, specific equation, can it really be by chance? Can the formation of this complexity be natural?

The beginning of the universe is proved through science by the change of entropies. Knowing that the universe had a beginning, means that the universe is finite. If the universe was infinite then it would have an infinite amount of time to reach the state of high entropy. In Fact, it would have reached it multiple times already. However, it is obvious that the energy in the universe has not reached sameness and is still moving towards high entropy. This example serves as evidence that the universe is not infinite.

The universe had a beginning and is finite. Therefore, according to the Kalam Cosmological Argument, below. The universe must have a cause. Its cause must be something outside the Universe, it cannot be something that the universe is made of. It cannot be matter because matter is part of the universe. Therefore, the cause of the universe must be something that is spaceless, timeless, immaterial and conscious.

Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
The universe began to exist.
Therefore, the universe has a cause.

People would refute the first premise because they believe that something can come from nothing. They"d say Physics gives examples of things coming from nothing. However, the vacuum is not "nothing."
philochristos

Con

Thank you for coming to tonight's debate. I will be playing devil's advocate for this debate because I am on Pro's side. But that doesn't mean I plan to make it easy for Pro to win. I plan to be difficult.

In the first paragraph, Pro argues that an infinite number of past events leads to absurdity, so there has to be a finite number of past events, so the universe must have a first event, so the universe came into existence from nothing, so the universe must have a creator.

There are problems with just about every step. First, there can be an infinite number of events since any finite interval can be divided infinitely, and each division can be considered an event. Second, even if there was a first event, it doesn't follow that the universe came into existence from nothing. The fact that there's a first event just means if you go backward in time, there's an end to it. But at the end, the universe exists. At the earliest moment of time, the universe exists. There could not have been a prior moment of time in which the universe didn't exist because there was no prior, so the universe could not have come into existence from nothing. Third, even if the universe did come into existence from nothing, that doesn't mean it has a creator. It could've come into existence spontaneously. After all, we already know that virtual particles spontaneously pop in and out of existence without sufficient causes. So why couldn't the universe?

In the next few paragraphs, Pro appears to be combining two different arguments--the argument for a beginning of the universe from low entropy, and the argument from fine-tuning. Both arguments can be answered with one response. All we have information about is the observable universe, but there is no reason to think what we observe is all that exists. There could be an infinite sea of quantum fields that has existed for infinite time. If that is the case, then of course the whole thing will be at thermodynamic equilibrium, but chance alone is sufficient to explain our universe because our universe would then just be a localized spontaneous emergence of low entropy. There is always a probability of a low entropy state emerging from a sea of high entropy, so given enough space and time, it's inevitable that something like our universe would emerge.

Finally, Pro says that since the universe was caused to come into existence, the cause must be something outside of the universe. And since it's something outside the universe, it must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, and conscious.

It's understandable why he'd say spaceless, timeless, and immaterial, since the universe just is space, time, and matter/energy. But where does he get consciousness? That's just an unproven inference he throws in there.

Even if we grant that the cause of the universe is spaceless, timeless, and immaterial, that only tells us what the cause is not. It doesn't tell us what the cause is. Pro needs to show tha the cause is God, but he hasn't done that. He's only told us what the cause is not. The cause is not something that is temporal, spacial, or material. That's all we can know.

But there are seriously problems in postulating something outside of the universe anyway. The notion is incoherent. Take anything we know to exist, let's say a rock. Now imagine the rock exists for shorter and shorter intervals of time. Instead of existing for a year, it exists for a minute. Or a second, or half a second, etc. At the same time, imagine the rock as smaller and smaller. As the rock approaches zero time and zero volume, it also approaches zero matter. What would happen if it actually reached zero time, space, and matter? Well, obviously, it would no longer exist. A rock that doesn't exist in time, space, or matter is a rock that doesn't exist and never did exist.

In the same way, if something is spaceless, timeless, and immaterial, then it doesn't exist. And if it doesn't exist, then it can't cause anything.

But even if there were such a thing as a spaceless, timeless, immaterial something or other that exists outside the universe, it couldn't have possibly caused the universe to come into existence since it would have no causal powers at all. There would be no way for it to interact with the physical world since it has no physical properties. It cannot act because it's timeless. It cannot impart energy to the universe because it has no energy to impart. There is absolutely no mechanism by which it could create the universe or cause anything in the physical world at all.

At the end, Pro anticipates one of my objections by saying that when something comes out of the vacuum, it does not come from nothing. But I didn't say virtual particles came into existence from nothing, only that they came into existence without sufficient causes. They are spontaneous. If something can come into existence spontaneous, then it doesn't require a cause. So it could be that the universe came into existence without a cause.



Debate Round No. 1
Dhides3

Pro

This is a filler. I am not addressing the excellent challenges of Philocristos. I will give my students a chance to answer the challenges from round 1 this coming week.

Admittedly, there is expected skepticism towards arguments that rely on science to support their premises. Now, I say this with a caution. Be wary of how quick you dismiss these arguments based on their dependence on the oft-changing physical sciences. It is not that the science that supports the premises is some kind of fringe science that will likely be made obsolete with soon discoveries. Actually, most of the science that supports the premises, of say, the fine-tuning argument, for example, is very sound and will likely not be made obsolete any time soon.

That being said, I am going to present an argument for the existence of God that is based solely on philosophy. An argument like this is not subject to any type of scientific scrutiny. If an argument, like the one that follows, is to be found fallacious, it must be found to proport a logical fallacy, some other violation of logic, or a metaphysical absurdity (i.e. God can create a square-circle). If, however, the argument is logically and metaphysically sound then its conclusion is necessary. For one to not believe the conclusion is then to prove one not interested in intellectual integrity. However, a lack of intellectual integrity is what the skeptic often accuses the theist/Christian of having.

The Ontological Argument for the existence of God.

1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
2. A maximally great being exists in some possible world.
3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
5. A maximally great being exists in the actual world.
6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

It will be noticed upon careful analysis of the argument that the only premise that can be reasonably challenged is premise one.
philochristos

Con

Pro says that his first premise is the only premise that can reasonably be challenged. Actually, the first and second premise can both be reasonably challenged because they are the same premise. The first premise states it in our ordinary vernacular; the second premise says the same thing using possible world semantics.

There is not really enough meat in Pro's presentation to make sense of this argument. For example, he doesn't define maximal greatness. Nor does he explain why the third premise is true. Thankfully, I am familiar enough with this argument to fill in the gaps.

Alvin Plantinga, who made this argument popular, defined maximal excellence as being all knowing, all powerful, and wholly good. Maximal greatness means having maximal excellence in all possible worlds. That's why if a maximally great being exists in at least one possible world, then it exists in all possible worlds, including the actual one.

This argument may be sound. The problem is that it's impossible to say. So the argument can't be shown to be sound. Let me explain the difficulty.

If it's true that there is a possible world in which maximal greatness is instantiated, then there can't be any possible world in which maximal greatness is not instantiated. The reason is because if it's instantiated in one possible world, then it's instantiated in all possible worlds. But that also means that if there's a possible world in which maximal greatness is not instantiated, then maximal greatness is not instantiated in any possible world. The reason is because if it were instatianted in any possible world, there wouldn't be a possible world in which it's not instantiated.

So whether you arrive at the conclusion that a maximally being exists or does not exist depends on whether there's a world in which maximal greatness is instantiated or a world in which maximal greatness is not instantiated. So before we can say whether the ontological argument is sound or not, we first have to evaluate which of these premises is true.

Premise 1: There is a possible world in which maximal greatness is instantiated.

Premise 2: There is a possible world in which maximal greatness is not instantiated.

If premise 1 is true, then premise 2 is false. If premise 2 is true, then premise 1 is false. If you try to refute one of the premises by assuming the other, then your argument begs the question. So how can you go about adjudicating between these two premises?

Well, there just doesn't seem to be any way to do that. The temptation might be to say that as long as there's no obvious incoherence in a world, then that world is possible. But the problem is that there's no obvious incoherence in either possible world in either premise. It is only be assuming the truth of one premise that the other world becomes impossible, which again is to beg the question.

Since we cannot know which of the two premises is true, we cannot know if the ontological argument is sound. And if we can't know if the ontological argument is sound, then the ontological argument cannot serve as a rational justification for belief in God.

Alvin Plantinga himself seemed to recognize this. In his book, God, Freedom, and Evil, p. 112, he says,

"But obviously this isn't a proof; no one who didn't already accept the conclusion, would accept the first premise. The ontological argument we've been examining isn't just like this one, of course, but it must be conceded that not everyone who understands and relfects on its central premise--that the existence of a maximally great being is possible--will accept it. Still, it is evidence, I think, that there is nothing contrary to reason or irrational in accepting this premise. What I claim for this argument, therefore, is that it establishes, not the truth of theism, but its rational acceptability."

That's a pretty low bar for a debate on the existence of God. Basically, all Plantinga thinks the argument establishes is that it's not irrational to be a theist, but to win this debate, Pro needs to show that theism is true, and Plantinga doesn't think the ontological argument does that.


Debate Round No. 2
Dhides3

Pro

We would like to address your first main point. You mentioned how "there can be an infinite number of events since any finite interval can be divided infinitely, and each division can be considered an event." However, in Dr. Craig"s On Guard, he mentions that this is committing the fallacy of composition which confuses a property of a part with the property of a whole. For example, one part of an elephant can be light in weight, but that doesn"t mean the whole elephant is light in weight. In the same way, every finite interval can be counted but it doesn"t mean the infinite number of events can be counted. You have confused finite as the whole when it is in the infinite. Now that we understand this concept, the analogy of Hilbert"s Hotel is absurd because you cannot have an infinite of anything including events. With the explanation that the finite is part of the infinite, we can conclude that the universe has a beginning. This brings us back to the Kalam Cosmological Argument which states:
Whatever begins to exists has a cause
The universe began to exist
Therefore, the universe has a cause
Recognizing that the universe has a beginning, we can come to a conclusion that the universe has a cause which leads to a designer/creator.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Assuming that we have agreed on what the cause of the universe must not be. What, then, does that leave us with? Dr. Craig also argues that there is only a short list of things that fit the traits of the First Cause. The only two things that can be described as "immaterial, timeless, and spaceless" are abstract objects or an unembodied mind." However, as abstract objects do not have causal powers, the only option left is an unembodied mind.
If the universe was not caused by a consciousness, it would be brought into being by a set of impersonal necessary and sufficient conditions. One of the arguments of why the cause of the universe must be personal/conscious is: how we can have an origin of a temporal effect with a beginning from a cause which exists timelessly and hence eternally. "If the cause of the universe was simply an impersonal [and unconscious), mechanically operating set of necessary and fixed conditions, then if the cause is given permanently and timelessly, why isn't the effect then permanently given?." In order for the First Cause to be timeless yet have its effect obtain the ability to bring about a changing effect, is for the cause to be a conscious and personal agent. The idea of agent-causality is presented. Wikipedia describes it as an idea in philosophy which states that an agent can start new causal chains not determined by prior events.

Your analogy of the rock is contingent upon three things: time, space, matter. How would you actually prove that the existence of all things is contingent upon these three things? You are taking a very naturalistic approach to the topic and it seemed to have led you astray. Take for example, the laws of reason. We understand that 1 + 1 must equal 2 but it"s truth is not contingent upon the three things mentioned earlier. Yet, we know for certain that 1 + 1 must equal 2. Similarly, when we argue for the existence of God, we argue not for an existence contingent upon the universe but rather an incontingent existence beyond the universe itself. A logical necessity if you will. That is not to say that empirical findings are obsolete. Both metaphysical demonstrations and empirical findings can go hand in hand. As discovered, the properties of the universe show that it is finite because science proves that it is decaying or moving towards a state of entropy.(2nd Law of Thermodynamics) This is evidence of a cause for the universe, before matter,time and space. It gives us proof of the universe coming into being from a something that is out of time,matter,and, space. Science and Philosophy can go hand in hand because science itself proves the existence of being that created the universe. Philosophy uses the empirical evidence that science gives us to solidate the premises and basics of itself. It is only needed when there needs to be answers for something beyond the naturalistic world.

The assumption that something, regardless if it is the universe, does not have a cause is unreasonable and can not be defended. Through an argument given by Surrendra Gangadean, in his book Philosophical Foundations, an uncaused event or being is not rational.

1. Contradictory statements cannont both be true and both be false.
2. The contradiction of "some is eternal" is "none is eternal."
3. If "none is eternal" then:
All is temporal
All had a beginning
All came into being
4. If all came into being then being came into existence from non-being.
5. Being from non-being is impossible.
6. Therefore, the original "none is eternal" is not possible.
7 Therefore, its contradiction "some is eternal" must be true.

Premise 5 states that "being from non-being is not possible." This means that everything has a cause and can not "just be", chance is extremely improbable. If you were to hold to the claim that the universe is uncaused, it is equivalent to seeing an elephant randomly appear in the room and be logically okay not knowing where or how it came to be.

The universe can not come from nothing, it had to have a cause for its existence because something can not come from nothing. After this, concluding that the universe exists, through the Kalam cosmological argument we can conclude that the universe must have a cause. The cause of the universe must be a conscious mind, spaceless, timeless being outside of our time that is able to bring the universe into existence. The only thing that fits these criteria is God.
philochristos

Con

In my first rebuttal, I made three criticisms of the KCA.

1. Actual infinites are possibe.

Pro says my response commits the fallacy of composition. Pro says that "every finite interval can be counted but it doesn"t mean the infinite number of events can be counted. You have confused finite as the whole when it is in the infinite." I don't follow what Pro is saying here, which means it probaly doesn't resemble what I actually argued. I didn't make any argument from parts to wholes. i made the argument that actual infinities are possible because any finite interval can be infinitely divided.

Pro went on to say that Hilbert's hotel leads to absurdities. Hilbert's hotel may lead to paradoxical results, but Cantor showed, using set theory, that actual infinities can exist. There are paradoxes, of course, but a paradox is not a contradiction.

2. A finite past does not entail creation ex nihilo.

Pro ignored this argument. Since this argument, by itself, refutes the second premise, then KCA is unsound.

3. Coming into existence doesn't necessarily require a cause.

Pro responded by arguing that "an uncaused event or being is not rational." But quantum theory has already shown that it happens all the time. Pro's argument failed to define "eternal," but it appears to mean the same thing as "a-temporal" or "timeless." But then if that's what it means, then the third premise is false. It's correct to say that if none is timeless, then all is temporal, but it doesn't follow that all has a beginning, much less that all came into being.

The fifth premise is the issue under dispute, and Pro just asserts it. If it is possible for something to begin without a sufficient cause, as quantum physics shows, then the fifth premise is false. Or at the least, the fifth premise cannot be taken for granted.

Pro then makes the following argument.

*If something can come into existence uncaused, then a elephant can come into existence uncaused.
*An elephant cannot come into existence uncaused.
*Therefore, it is not true that something can come into existence uncaused.

But the first premise is false. It doesn't follow from the mere possibility of something coming into existence uncaused that just any and everything can do so. Some events, like an elephant coming to be, require causes. Other events, like the decay of a radio active isotope, do not require sufficient causes.

With the first and second premises of the KCA both refuted, and without Pro defending the KCA against these refutations, then KCA is refuted.

Pro goes on to infer what properties the cause of the universe must have. Since I've already refuted the notion that the universe must have a cause, these property arguments are moot. But let's address them anyway.

Even if we suppose the universe does require a cause, Pro has only shown that the cause would have to be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. I challenged Pro to explain why the cause must be personal. Pro does so with a disjunctive syllogism.

*The cause of the universe is either a mind or an abstract object.
*The cause is not an abstract object.
* Therefore, the cause is a mind.

Pro makes no attempt to substantiate the first premise, but it can be attacked a number of ways. First, there's no evidence that an unembodied mind is even possible. Every mind that we're familiar with is an embodied mind. So an unembodied mind is highly unlikely.

Second, Pro would need to rule out the possibility of there being a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, mindless object that is the cause of the universe. While it might be hard to imagine what such a thing might be, as long as we're talking about the supernatural, we can't rule out the possibility of strange things.

Pro makes a second argument for why the cause must be a mind. It's because anything that isn't a mind would have to be a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions, in which case the universe would be just as eternal as the cause. But this is false as I've already shown. It is possible for things to happen spontaneously. When an isotope decays, for example, there are no necessary and sufficient conditions for that to happen. It happens spontaneously. The same may be true for the cause of the universe.

Pro makes the argument that a personal agent behaves differently than mechanical causes because "an agent can start new causal chains not determined by prior events." Well, if an agent cause cause a new causal chain without that chain being determined by prior events, then Pro has conceded that it's possible for there to be events without sufficient causes. Well, if it's possible for there to be events without sufficient causes, then the beginning of the universe could be just such an event.

Pro's "personal agent" refutes the first premise of the KCA. If a personal agent can begin a causal chain without being caused to do so, then it's not true that everything that begins to exist must have a cause. But if everything that begins to exist must have a cause, then no causal chain can begin since every event or cause must have a causal event that preceded it.

I used a rock as an analogy to show that if something does not exist in time or space, then it doesn't exist at all. Pro used laws of reason and math as counter-examples. But these are abstract things. We are talking about concrete things. If God existed, he would have to be a concrete thing, not an abstract thing. Any concrete thing must exist in space or time, as my rock analogy demonstrates.

Thank you for coming to tonight's debate.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by BackCommander 3 years ago
BackCommander
Pro, your very first sentence is incorrect. It's one of the failed attempts at philosophy that modern theists have taken to using, to no avail. The past doesn't HAVE to be finite, existence could very well be cyclical. We have absolutely no evidence that the universe is or isn't cyclical. If you can believe that there is a possibility that there is a being outside of existence that has always been and had no beginning, you must also be open to the idea that the universe itself could exist under those same rules. If you're not open to that possibility, you're against your own logic.
Posted by canis 3 years ago
canis
"Does philosophy and science work together to offer compelling evidence for the existence of God?"
Evidence of what ?... Science is about proving a theory. Philo is about making a theory about realety...A god is not even a theory..just a dream...
Posted by Dhides3 3 years ago
Dhides3
That would be great. Thanks!
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
I'll try to delay my response as long as I can to give you a little extra time.
Posted by Dhides3 3 years ago
Dhides3
Thanks for letting me know. I'll put in a filler argument over the weekend and then let my students work on an argument for round 3.
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
If you go past the due date, the debate will freeze, an you won't be able to post your response.
Posted by Dhides3 3 years ago
Dhides3
I'm a happy wannabe philo. teacher. :) I teach a philosophy and Christian apologetics class at an international school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This initial argument was crafted by two of my students. Not bad, huh? We use a number of texts throughout the year and end the school year with Dr. Craig's On Guard. I will have my students work on your excellent challenge and craft a response next week in class. It may exceed the due date for the argument but I would be most appreciative if you kept up a response.; time permitting, of course. Thanks again for your insightful challenge!
Posted by philochristos 3 years ago
philochristos
Students? Are you a philosophy teacher? Where do you teach?
Posted by Dhides3 3 years ago
Dhides3
Thank you so much philochristos! Your response will challenge my students to dig much deeper into the arguments we're learning.
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