The Instigator
Con (against)
14 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
7 Points

God exists

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 6/20/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,158 times Debate No: 56925
Debate Rounds (4)
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Looking for a short devil's advocate debate... Normally I would be Pro on this topic, but I'd like to be Con for this one.

The BoP is on Pro to show that God exists.

God shall be defined as the transcendent mind which is all knowing and all powerful, and preserves the universe in existence.

Since this debate structure is kindof funny, because my opponent has the burden, he can go first right away with his arguments.

R1: Rules/Acceptance and opening arguments
R2: Rebuttals
R3: Rebuttals/Conclusion
R4: Conclusion/blank round.

My opponent shall type "no round as agreed" since he has the burden and is going first.

Also, no new arguments in the conclusions area. This is where the debate should be winding down.

Good luck to whoever accepts!


Thank you Mike for the open challenge, good luck!

I. God
Mike and I have agreed to drop the omniscient qualifier for God, and I will be arguing for an omnipotent conscious creator god of the universe.

II. The Fine Tuning Argument

The fine tuning argument is an argument for God which attempts to account for the precisely tuned constants and laws of physics/nature that allow not only for life, but for anything of interest to occur whatsoever.

The argument can be formalised as a complex syllogism:

P1) If the universe is finely tuned, then it has a conscious fine tuner
P2) The universe is finely tuned
C1) The universe has a conscious fine tuner
P3) If the universe has a conscious fine tuner, it must be all-powerful
C2) The universes" conscious fine tuner is all-powerful (God)

The argument consists of two standard modus ponens. If the argument is valid and the premises are true/likely to be true, then we have excellent reason to accept the conclusion that follows.

Defence of P2

The universe, as is currently known, is extremely well described by quantum mechanics, the standard model, and general relativity. These theories so far tell us a great deal about the behaviour of the universe, and accurate models constructed from these, physicists call this "from first principles". [1]

What has been realised is "working from first principles" we find the universe hinges on a number of fundamental constants of nature. What is more striking is that variations in these fundamental constants of nature would lead to a completely sterile universe. Not just a sterile universe for life, but also a universe completely devoid of anything interesting to speak whatsoever, including basic chemistry.

The fine balance that the universe is in, and the fact that there is no reason whatsoever to suspect the universe couldn"t have been anything different (i.e. these fundamental constants set to some other values) leads us to the conclusion that the universe necessarily must have been tuned to allow for the conditions that life arose from.[2] Note that this does not necessarily mean life was the objective of this tuning, as it would likely have been an outcome of any tuning made to create an "interesting universe", for whatever reason.

These "first principles" reduce down to several fundamental constants of nature. I will discuss the speed of light, the cosmological constant, the Newtonion gravitation constant and the strong nuclear force. There are many more but they are unnecessary to discuss in this debate.

The strong nuclear force for example is known to have a tolerance of just 0.5% in either direction.[3] Increasing the strength of the strong nuclear force would lead to all the hydrogen formed in the big bang to form diprotons, which would make nuclear fusion nigh impossible within stars, and also removes the most useful and abundant element, Hydrogen, from the list of available elements. Reducing the strong nuclear force would make essentially every single element above hydrogen unstable, and thus we would be left in a universe filled with nothing but diffuse hydrogen.

The cosmological constant is known to be very finely tuned also, increasing it would have led to the universe expanding at far too great a rate for galaxies and stars to form.[4] A lower value would have led to the universe collapsing into a black hole before the party started. No chemistry, no life, nothing interesting.

Similarly for the gravitational constant, increasing it would have knock on effects, such as the universe collapsing to become a black hole, and far too short lived stars to sustain evolution. Too low would lead to the universe diffusing into a cloud of hydrogen and helium. [4]

Moreover the laws themselves could have been drastically different. It is a very clear and useful indication that we have an exceptionally rare configuration. I have not listed all the variables critical for anything of interest to occur in our universe but it's not a far stretch to state that the number of sterile universes stupendously outnumber the number of non-sterile universes.

Therefore we have overwhelming evidence that the universe is finely tuned, and strongly satisfies P2.

Defence of P1

My defence of P1 is summarised as follows:

PI) Either the fundamental constants were set intelligently (by a fine tuner) or non-intelligently (randomly)
PII) Most likely not non-intelligently
C) Most likely the fundamental constants were set intelligently

Premise II of this sub-argument may see some contest, but as we so far know there is no 'selection' pressure that selects for 'interesting' universes in cosmology, and even if such a mechanism did exist then the exact same argument can be made for that selection event. Since there are an unimaginably large number of ways a 'selection' event could end up selecting for something.

For example the process of natural selection in evolution could have ended up selecting for silicon based life instead if carbon based, where only carbon based life causes the secondary effect that would be analogous to the argument I am making. As argued for in P1 of the fine tuning argument, there are an unimaginably large number of ways the universe could have been, and as such any non-specific method for selecting a viable setting, or 'tune' for the universe is unimaginably likely to pick a 'bad' and sterile setting.

Therefore it follows that it is very unlikely that such a selection could have been performed non-intelligently.

With a conscious fine tuner to do the fine tuning however, this problem immediately disappears. Since the intelligent agency can adjust the variables, and an agency, or being, with sufficient intelligence and power to do so would be able to accomplish this. The conscious tuner would have the foresight and motivation to produce a somewhat interesting universe. Therefore is follows that it is even more unlikely that the tuning could have been performed non-intelligently.

Defence of P3

These cosmological constants tie into the very clockwork of how our universe operates. It goes without saying that any conscious being that is capable of manipulating these is one that is all-powerful. Such a being would be transcendent of the laws and and nature of physical reality, and therefore quickly fulfils the final qualifier for God in this debate.

V. Kalam Cosmological Argument

You can call me Dr. Craig!

P1) Everything which begins to exist has a cause
P2) The universe began to exist
C) The universe has a cause

Defence of P1:
This premise is evident by both inductively and logically. All things that begin to exist have elicited a 'change' of some sort, and all changes known occur due to causes known within the universe. Gravity causes the pen to fall, the displacement of space-time causes the gravity, the quantum vacuum causes quantum fluctuations. This is logically supported by the weak principle of sufficient reason [5]. There has never been an observance of any event occurring without an existing cause, and that includes beginning to exist.

Moreover ex nihilo nihil fit - out of nothing, nothing comes is a simple statement that the universe could not have come from nothing, for numerous reasons much less the PSR. Moreover it is impossible for the universe to have created itself, since that would imply the universe would have existed prior to itself existing, which is logically nonsensical.

Defence of P2
Modern cosmology clearly shows the universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate, by tracing this expansion back we find that all the mass, energy everything within the universe 'exploded' into existence in a spectacularly energetic event known as the origin of the Big Bang. Such is very well attested by studies of the CMB, redshift, and more recently gravitational wave polarisation. Virtually every prediction made by Big Bang cosmology has come true and as such the very origin of the universe as well.

Indeed many modern cosmological models take into account the beginning if the universe, one such example among many is given by Stephen Hawking.[6]

To connect the conclusion to God we have:

PI) Either the cause of the universe was concious/non concious
PII) Not non-concious
C) The cause of the universe was concious (God)

In defence of premise II, the only known non-conscious causal things are material/physical. However before the origin of the universe it is impossible for anything physical or material to exist as all things material/physical are contingent on the (not yet existent) universe. A conscious cause fulfils all the criteria of immateriality, causal ability and will to do something. It would also follow that such a being is omnipotent, since it is capable of causing the universe, satisfying the resolution.

Over to Con!

V. References
[2] doi:10.1017/S0036930600017385.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to Envisage for his well structured and organized opening round. By the end of this rebuttal though, I think his arguments shall become shaky at best. The burden is on him, so he must satisfactorily rebolster the arguments and refute my rebuttals.

God and the arguments
For this part, I shall assume, for the sake of argument, that the arguments succeed. That being said, my opponent has to show several properties of God.

i God is intelligent.
ii God is all powerful (omnipotent)
iii God preserves the universe in existence.

The Fine Tuning Argument (FTA)
The fine tuning argument, if successful, does indeed demonstrate that God is intelligent, however it doesn't satisfy (ii) and (iii).

(i) All-powerful
If the fine tuning argument is successful, it does show that God is most powerful, but most powerful does not necessarily mean all powerful. Essentially, my opponent argues:

C1 The universe has a conscious fine tuner
P3 If the universe has a conscious fine tuner, it must be all-powerful
C2 The universes" conscious fine tuner is all-powerful (God)

Now, not to downtalk my opponent's structure at all, but this can easily be converted into the following BARBARA syllogism, which I think will better explain my rebuttal.

P1 Whatever has a conscious fine tuner is all-powerful
P2 The universe has a conscious fine tuner
C The universe is all-powerful.

This is an accurate representation of the argument. Let me elaborate and show this is the same argument, just in categorical terms instead of hypothetical terms.

P1 If Socrates is a man, then Socrates is mortal
P2 Socrates is a man
C Socrates is mortal

is converted to...

P1 All men are mortal
P2 Socrates is a man
C Socrates is mortal

Let's say that God is limited to 100 units of power. It takes 25 units of power to create the universe.

100 - 25 = 75 units of power

So then God would be left with 75 units of power.

Now of course, God would be more powerful than anything in the universe, since he has 75 units of power, and there is only 25 units in the universe, however the point is that God is not all powerful.

That means, it's perfectly possible for God to create the universe while having limited power.

Thus, my opponent has not successfully defended the premise that the creator must be all-powerful. Of course, he must be "most" powerful, but this is a far cry from infinitely powerful.

Furthermore, if there were an action which required more than 100 units of power, God would not be able to do this. For example, he wouldn't be able to create a universe which containts 200 units of power. Precisely because he isn't able to. However, a universe which is made out of 200 units of power is a perfect logical and metaphysical possibility. It's just as possible as a 25 unit universe.

Thus, God is not necessarily omnipotent.

(ii) Preserves the universe in existence
Furthermore, simply because God created the universe, this does not mean that he preserves the universe in existence. For example, I need a car to get me to work, but I don't need a car to *stay* at work. So even if God did create the universe, we don't necessarily need him around anymore. Who knows, he could have died, dropped out of existence, killed himself, etc.

So just because God creates the universe, this doesn't mean at all that the universe is preserved in existence by him.

Rebutting the arguments

I shall first ask my opponent what he means by "finely tuned." It does indeed sound rhetorically nice to say "fine tuning implies a tuner" or "design implies a designer" or "moral laws imply a moral lawgiver", however this is a sort of equivocation.

Yes, the human body is "designed" in the sense that it survives well in its environment. However, the word "designer" is an equivocation here. An apparent "design" or "law" doesn't always mean there is a designer. We as humans recognize patterns, and call it "design".

My opponent is arguing on a lack of scientific knowledge of the origin of the universe. Let's not forget that before scientists knew about evolution, the human body was thought to be "designed". And of course, using the same reasoning as my opponent, design implies a designer. Right?

Not really. Often times when things appear to be "designed" science finds out that this was due to our lack of knowledge.

The appearance of design looks almost identical to design. The appearance of tuning looks almost identical to tuning. Do we really have enough scientific knowledge about the beginning of the universe to be able to tell that this is a real example of tuning, and not just the apperance of tuning?

My opponent must establish that we are in a position to even tell the difference between what just looks like tuning, and what actually is fine tuning. With the given scientific knowledge, all we know is that the universe appears to be finely tuned.

Second of all, my opponent creates a true and false dichotomy.

It's true, that I am arguing that the fundamental constants were not caused by an intelligence. However, this doesn't necessarily mean it is random.

Third, my opponent is arguing from the point of view that life is somehow better or more interesting than not. And since there's only a small area which allows for life, there's probably an intelligence that made this interesting thing happen.

However, the idea that life is inherently better than non-life is unsupported. If you were buying a lottery ticket, the possibility that you get the number 1111111 is just as interesting to the printer as the possibility of the winning ticket. They're equally as unlikely. But neither is more interesting.

Fourthly my opponent assumes that the way life has come about is the only way for life, or intelligent beings, to come around. However, this is a tremendous assumption. It seems entirely plausible to suggest that there are other ways for intelligent beings to come around with different fundamental constants.

John Lofton States,

"It seems like the very purpose of the universe is to produce black holes (not life). There are more black holes than life bearing planets (a lot more)...The universe is almost entirely a vacuum, in which black holes, not life, thrive. We barely struggle along, having a very difficult time surviving, in brutal competition for resources on a microscopic island of life that will be melted by the sun in some time."

"The biggest and most fatal criticism is that it is a tautology. The universe has to be ‘fine-tuned’ for life. Life developed within the universe, and so life has to be evolved TO the universe. Life cannot develop dancing to the tune of another universe – this is nonsensical. Therefore, any life that starts in any universe, by definition, must be ‘fine-tuned’ by that universe and thus every life-permitting universe will appear to be fine-tuned for life." [4]

My opponent begins by making the fallacy of a sweeping generalization fallacy. [1]

Yes, everything we see around us that comes into existence has a cause. No, the universe isn't comparable. Causality we see around us, which my opponent uses to prove this premise, is always on a macroscopic level, in time, within the universe.

However, when the universe began to exist, it wasn't on a macroscopic level, was not in time, and was not within the universe.

My opponent is comparing apples to oranges, and is applying a principle which works well in day to day encounters, but doesn't necessarily work in special cases... such as the beginning of space and time.

Furthermore, the PSR is considered to be very controversial, as stated in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [2]. "The Principle of Sufficient Reason is a powerful and controversial philosophical principle:."

Finally, the KCA only works under A-series time. However, it does not work under B-series time. Even Craig states, ""From start to finish, the kalam cosmological argument is predicated upon the A-Theory of time. On a B-Theory of time, the universe does not in fact come into being or become actual at the Big Bang; it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block that is finitely extended in the earlier than direction. If time is tenseless, then the universe never really comes into being, and, therefore, the quest for a cause of its coming into being is misconceived."

However, we have no reasons to think that A-series is true.

Finally, even if the universe does have a cause, it doesn't need to be God. Why can't the cause be an immaterial, causally able, non-intelligent substance? Why say it's intelligent if we don't need to?

In conclusion, either my opponent's arguments are sound, or they're not. If they're not sound, my opponent hasn't met his burden. If they are sound, my opponent still hasn't proven God to be omnipotent or to preserve the universe in existence, and thus hasn't met his burden. So in either case, the resolution remains unaffirmed.

Thank you.

[3] Blackwell Companion to Natural Theologypp 183-184


Thanks Con.

I. Preface

Con doesn't accept I have fulfilled the definition of god required in the resolution. Fortunately both my arguments are based on the origin of the universe , and hence I can bolster both of these arguments in one go.

II. Fine Tuning Argument - BARBARA

Unfortunately for Pro, converting a BARBARA syllogism into a modus ponens is valid, but doing the reverse is NOT. Take the following syllogisms:

P1) If a cup has a chip, THEN it is ruined
P2) The cup has a chip
C) The cup is ruined

P1*) Whatever has a chip is ruined
P2) The cup has a chip
C) The cup is ruined

However you can see the major premise of both arguments are not equivalent. P1 is a subset of P1*. Clearly P1* is a much less sound premise than P1 . As such, all attacks on the BARBARA reformulation are straw men.

III. Omnipotence

Power is determined by what one is capable within the limits of testing, however God transcends these limits by manipulating the very laws that govern these limits. As such God has power that is transcendent and by all means infinite, and actually transcendent infinite. Imagine an object travelling with an infinite amount of energy, which by the theory of relativity would traveling at the speed of light. God could manipulate the laws to make that infinitely powerful object travel at a slower speed.

Therefore God transcends things that are by all means infinite. Pro's objection about variable power is a misnomer than anything else.

Pro's statement, "That means, it's perfectly possible for God to create the universe while having limited power." Is one he actually needs to support. It is not clear that such a statement is even logically coherent.

IV. Fine Tuned Universe

I already said in my opening that finely tuned does not presuppose it being actively tuned, it's just an observational statement of affairs

Unfortunately Pro's analogy with evolution simply doesn't cut in the case of fine tuning. In the evolution of life yes there are many ways life could have been, thus starting with say, humans and stating "Hey! If life occurred any other way, then we would never have become bipedal!" is unsound.

The critical difference with evolution is there are a spectrum of valid ways that life could have turned out. If humans rabbits and horses never evolved, then we have excellent reason to believe that some other life instead could have filled those niches, hence arguing for life's current state of being is unsound.

But this simply is not the case with the origin of the universe, because the argument actually looks at the other ways the universe could have been, and it is clear the vast majority of these, the stupendous majority of these, are completely sterile of anything of interest to speak whatsoever. There would just be nothing but a big black hole or a cloud of hydrogen, or worse!

The fact that we live in such a rare configuration that allows for these interesting things to occur, such as galaxy formation, star formation and yes, black hole formation, it is rather farfetched for Pro to assert that our configuration is 'nothing special'. We really do have a special winning ticket.

V. Non consciously implies random

Critically, in evolution there is actually a selection mechanism, namely natural selection. There is no such apparent process that's even possible for the cosmos, and indeed the burden of proof is on Con to provide it if it does exist. Even if it does however, it just begs the question as I mentioned in my opening. What guiding force would there be? Furthermore, virtually all appeals to naturalistic explanations that fallaciously point to quantum mechanics are almost invariably themselves random. To suggest otherwise seems absurd.

Con provides a quote rebutting the tuned-ness of the universe for life, however it actually seems that John Lofton goes some way to affirming my case! Thank you Pro for inadvertently agreeing with my second premise! Note the fine tuning does need *not* be for life, the evidence I have presented argues for a far more broad set of conditions, which is what is required for anything of interest to occur within the universe at all, including life.

Pro's objections that life evolved to fit the universe, while perhaps valid, are irrelevant to the argument, since the very conditions that allow for evolution of any sort to take place are themselves finely tuned.

Note that I am not appealing to what we don't know, I am appealing to what we do know, and how we do know the universe will be if it was different. It is Con who seems to need to appeal to ignorance.


"Yes, everything we see around us that comes into existence has a cause."

Excellent, Pro helps affirm my premise!

Please note that our observations even work down to quantum scales independent of time, such as the Casmir Effect![1] Which requires a "quantised vacuum field", clearly this excellent premise holds even as we continue to dig down to smaller and smaller scales and in increasingly more obscure answers.

Con's attempt to build an exception to the universe when clearly all other instances of coming into existence requires a cause is simply a fallacy of special pleading.[2]

Moreover the PSR was only used as a supporting argument, but to deny this well received principle he would literally have to state that it's possible for contingent things to exist, without a cause.

In doing so he pretty much undermines everything in science! If you see a football and I told you there is no reason for it existing, it just is, then you would rightly think I am crazy! This is just the kind of thing Pro has to assert to deny the PSR.

VII. A Series of time
There are many excellent reasons to accept the A series of time. First consider the only other feasible theory of time is the B theory of time, which states that the past present and future all exist and are real. A theory of time only assumes the present to exist, the past is gone and the future is coming.

I would like to ask Pro, who is going to win this debate? Who will be the next president? Because B series of time doesn't distinguish between past present and future. Furthermore how does time actually progress in B series of time? That's like saying the inner layers of an onion physically progress to the outer layers. There is simply no mechanism that allows for the progression, or arrow of time from one point to another. It also raises serious problems of free will and entails determinism. If the future events exist, then everything is deterministic, and free will cannot exist, since you can never choose differently.

This is not only prima facie implausible, it also runs into quantum mechanics, which the majority of physicists reject determinism for randomness.[2]

VIII. Sustainer

Both of my arguments effectively argue for a first cause of the universe, now I didn't get into the qualifier of God sustaining the universe, as it seems to be a subjective one. I would argue that the universe is 'sustained' in the sense that the universe is actually a part of God.

For anything that begins to exist, there must be both a material and an efficient cause, for example a marble statue will have a material cause in the marble it is constructed from, and an efficient cause in the sculptor, who actively carved the marble. This applies to anything, including for example particle pair generation, where the material cause is the electroweak field.

Similarly, given the universe is caused, it must have both a material and efficient cause. These causes must be not contingent on space, time, charge, matter. I have already affirmed that a mind is an excellent candidate for this first cause, which is greatly affirmed by the fine tuning argument as there is a clear example of telos. However a mind only accounts for the efficient cause, what of the material cause?

This is a problem, and the solution is that the material cause IS the efficient cause. For example a person may chop off his own finger, then material and efficient cause are both his body. This also gets around the interaction problem where two things can only ever interact if they share properties. A mind can only interact with matter if they share one or more properties. In the case of the universe, if we imagine a material cause and God, both would need to share properties for God to affect a change.

Such an explanation is greatly favoured by Occum's razor It is equally explanatory that God is the material of the universe, and as such, if he is the material, then he pretty well fits the definition of being the sustainer. Moreover it gets around the problem of material not existing before the Big Bang.

IX. Conclusion:

The resolution is well affirmed, and many of what Pro's objections actually help to support my case! Moreover much of the remainder highlights the absurdity of denying the premises in question.

X. References
Debate Round No. 2


The God pro has to show
Again, Pro has to show that God exists, and then show that God has these properties.

1. Intelligent
2. All powerful
3. Sustains the universe in existence.

My opponent claims that my reconstruction of his argument in categorical terms doesn't accurately represent his argument, and uses this example to show why

P1 If a cup has a chip, THEN it is ruined
P2 The cup has a chip
C The cup is ruined

P1* Whatever has a chip is ruined
P2 The cup has a chip
C The cup is ruined

But his second argument should be formulated:

P1 Any cup that has a chip is ruined
P2 This cup has a chip
C This cup is ruined.

So it is accurate to represent his argument as:

P1: Any universe that has a fine tuner has an all-powerful fine tuner
P2: The universe has a fine tuner
C: The universe's fine tuner is all powerful

Now either way you look at this argument, whether it be his original formulation or my reconstruction, I've attacked the first premise.

Does the universe having a fine tuner automatically mean that fine tuner is omnipotent?

I've given arguments and shown that it only means that the creator is "most powerful" in the sense of being more powerful than anything in the universe. However, I've also argued that most powerful is not necessarily the same as all powerful.

My opponent states, "Power is determined by what one is capable within the limits of testing...God transcends these limits by manipulating the very laws that govern these limits."

However, I disagree. Power is the ability to actualize certain potentials. If there's the potential for a universe to exist which requires 200 units of power to make, then if I am omnipotent, I can do this.

However, if I am "most" powerful, in the sense of being more powerful than any actual thing in existence, I can't necessarily create a 200 unit of power universe. For example, if I only had 100 units of power. My power is limited, yet still greater than anything else's power.

So just because something creates the universe, this doesn't mean it's omnipotent. It only means that it is most powerful.

In short, God doesn't need to be all-powerful to create the universe. He just needs to be powerful enough to create it. If I need to lift a very heavy stone, I don't need to be all powerful to lift it. Just powerful enough.

To put it very shortly, just because God creates the universe, this doesn't mean he is all powerful.

My opponent claims that the way that God sustains the universe in existence is that he is both the efficient and material cause of the universe.

However, there is a problem with this once again.

Suppose I were to create a painting on a piece of human flesh. The flesh came from Bob who skinned his arm and gave me the skin to paint a picture on it for him.

In this case, Bob is both the efficient cause and the material cause of the stretched out piece of skin. However, does Bob need to continue in existence for the piece of skin to exist? Absolutely not!

The reason is that the skin is a separate thing from Bob now. As I have shown, just because X is both the efficient and material cause of Y, this doesn't mean that Y is a "part" of X or is dependent upon X for its existence.

So I can happily concede that yes God could possibly be both the material and efficient cause of the universe. But no this doesn't mean that the universe needs God to continue in existence. God could drop out of existence, and since the universe is a new substance, it could easily continue in existence without him.

My opponent states, "This is a problem, and the solution is that the material cause IS the efficient cause."

Either way it's a problem. The solution is that we don't need a God for the universe to begin in existence, or to persist in existence.

Conclusion so far
Even if my opponent's arguments are sound, he still has not met his burden.

My opponent ignores my arguments that the terms "finely tuned" are merely euphemisms to easily lead to "fine tuner." In other words, it sounds snappy and rhetorically nice.

I've already pointed out that life, or something interesting, could seemingly have came about in ways other than the way it has. My opponent needs to show that our universe is absolutely the *only* way for *anything* interesting to come about. Not that it is the only way for this particular instance of life and interesting things.

As I've pointed out, we know notoriously little about the beginning of the universe. We are still taking baby steps. Thus, to make an argument with our current scientific knowledge is similar to saying creationism is true because we can't see how life could come about any other way.

I shall also repeat: My opponent needs to show that we are in the scientific position to be able to tell the difference between real fine tuning, and just the appearance of fine tuning. Until he does so, his argument can't get off the ground.

I am not appealing to ignorance. An appeal to ignorance is when someone claims a positive statement because of the lack of knowledge. I'm not saying that due to our lack of knowledge that there is *not* a fine tuner. I'm saying that due to our lack of knowledge we can't know *yet* if there is a fine tuner.

Why should we assume that there is a fine tuner? Why not continue to search for naturalistic explanations for the so called "fine tuning" of the universe? I should like to point out that the exact same arguments were made before evolution was discovered. To ask my opponent again, why does he think that this is any different? How can he be sure we won't discover a non-conscious guiding force which has caused the universe to support life?

Another point to make is this.

Assume that in order for life to occur, we must choose a random number between 2 and 5. However, there's an infinite amount of numbers between 2 and 5! So the number of universes that could support life in the way that this one does (remember, there might be other ways too, we just dont know) is infinite!

Why can't the cause be a necessary naturalistic cause? Why can't the cause be something like an impersonal substance, which randomly generated the universe?

My opponent accuses me of committing the fallacy of special pleading, but this is not the case. I gave reasons why the universe coming into existence is completely different than things we see around us coming into existence.

The universe did not begin in time, and is not inside of an limited to the constraints of the universe. So why should we assume it has a cause as well?

Imagine you are working on a car. You know that after a certain amount of time you need to add more oil. However, what if the steering goes one day? They're similar, in that they're both mechanical problems with your car, but will adding oil fix it? Maybe. Maybe not. We aren't justified in assuming adding oil will fix your steering.

It is the same with the universe. Just because we see everything around us which is inside of time and inside the universe have a cause, does this mean something which is not inside of time and not inside of the universe will have a cause? Maybe. Maybe not.
My opponent also claims that denying the PSR leads to crazy consequences. He says that it's then possible that a football could just exist without a cause.

He is perfectly correct. However, we know that footballs typically do have a cause. This doesn't mean that they *must* have a cause. Just that they do.

My opponent needs to prove that things "coming into existence" require a cause. He also must show how this controversial assumption applies to the universe. He is taking the rules of an apple and applying it to an orange.

The universe coming into existence is completely dissimilar than objects we see around us coming into existence. He is misapplying a general rule to a special case it is not meant to apply to. This is called the fallacy of sweeping generalization.

Will adding oil fix the steering on my truck?
My opponent claims that A series of time must be true because it's prima facie true. But remember, the desk in front of you seems hard and solid, and in reality is actually mostly empty space. Appearances are often times wrong.

Another important point to make is that A-series of time is incompatible with the results of the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment. If the past does not exist, how can our present measurements affect the past, as this experiment shows they do? [1]

We also have the Wheeler De-Witt equation, which unites Quantum Mechanics with Relativity.
\hat{H}(x) |\psi\rangle = 0

But an important note to make is that the Wheeler De-Witt equation explains reality tenselessly. In other words, it assumes B-theory. Since the Wheeler De-Witt equation is the best explanation for uniting QM and relativity, and is only true if B-theory is true, this is another point for B-theory.



I. Preface

I really would like to thank Con for another excellent debate, and I applaud him for his heroic efforts to nullify the resolution. Now to wrap this up.

II. Omnipotence
Con knows this as well as I do, but his BARBARA conversion is yet still a strawman. Note that he has changed the premises to attempts again to fit it into such, but it simply does not work. The two interchanged premises:

P3) If the universe has a conscious fine tuner, it must be all-powerful
P3*) Any universe that has a fine tuner has an all-powerful fine tuner

These premises are simply not equivalent. P3 is a subset of P3*, but not equal. P3 is only conditional on this specific universe, and is made conditional of what we know about this specific universe. It doesn't have to assume anything about all universes, as it is unnecessary. It is valid to go from P3* to P3, but not vice versa. Any attacks on P3* are straw men as already affirmed.

Pro seems to miss one critical point regarding his 'Power units' analogy for creation of the universe. Units of WHAT? Without the universe, any talk of power and energy etc are completely meaningless, since the very framework by which we determine something to be powerful, is simply did not exist before creation.

That's exactly why God MUST be omnipotent, since he has created the framework by the very which we can have power in the first place. Therefore to say God could have been more/less powerful is a nonsensical statement (as affirmed in R3). Remember what power actually means in physics:

Power = Energy/Time

But, neither energy nor time exist without the universe, and hence any being which both creates and manipulates this framework/fundamental laws/constants is an excellent example of what an omnipotent one would be. In fact it's hard to imagine an omnipotent being without assuming it would create/manipulate the laws of nature. Therefore the point of Omnipotence is well affirmed and my opponent's objections simply miss the mark.

I already affirmed in both my opening and subsequent rounds exactly what I meant by 'finely tuned', I'll leave the voters to go back and look to see if I have answered this objection or not.

Moreover I never made the claim that life could not have come about in other ways, I haven't even made the claim about life in the first place, I only demonstrated that with what we do already know, if that the fundamental constants have exceptionally low tolerances for even the remotely interesting universe to occur. It is a bonus that this encapsulates life, but it argues for so much more, including stars galaxies, asymmetrical dust clouds or the fact the universe is not one big black hole or a cloud of diffuse hydrogen.

Therefore Pro's continued attacks on my non-assertions regarding life are simply off the mark. Even leading atheist physicists accept that the universe is finely tuned:

"...we can compare their actual configuration to all the possible configurations they could have been in. The answer is, our observed universe is highly non-generic, and in the past it was even more non-generic, or "finely tuned." - Sean Carroll

Con puts a false burden on me to demonstrate that this universe is the only way something interesting could have occurred. This is flatly false. All I had to do, and I have successfully done, is to show that the number of 'failed' universes vastly outnumber the number of successful universes for my arguments to work. And that is a fact that Con has not contended.

There simply isn't much place for Pro to argue here, Pro hasn't even suggested where the science breaks downs and what possibilities could be missed, the situation is simple, the number of sterile universes (not just sterile for life) vastly outnumber the number of viable universes. It is like throwing a pack of cards in the air and ending up with a card-castle! We very much are in the position to see genuine examples of fine tuning, because we know by analogy what a failed house of cards looks like, it's spectacularly bad!

It simply doesn't matter how many viable universes there are, what does matter is how many viable universes there are IN RELATION to failed universes. Therefore Pro's number analogy of 2 to 5 is futile if the search-space for winning numbers is between 1 and a million.

IV. Kalam Cosmological Argument

Pro once again reasserted that there could have been a naturalistic cause, but I have already eliminated this possibility by the fact that naturalistic causes are necessarily part of the universe, and the universe began with the Big Bang.

Moreover we have zero evidence if any 'random impersonal immaterial substance', yet we have an abundance of evidence of minds with causal ability. As such it is substantially more sound to appeal to what we do know than to appeal to what we don't know. This appears to be another example of Con's appeal to ignorance, it's the same reasoning why we do not assume the cause of a house-fire is due to witchcraft, we simply have no examples and evidence of witches magically causing fires, yet we have abundant evidence of burnt-out candles doing so, for example.

My objection to Pro's special pleading holds, as I have demonstrated empirically that our principles of causality hold as we look as simpler and simpler and increasingly more microscopic/abstract examples. Therefore by extension we have excellent reason to assume these principles hold.

I cannot add arguments to support the PSR any further, but my objections sustained in the previous round simply have not been addressed by Con, and I believe they are sufficient to rule Con's rejection of the PSR to be nonsensical.

I mean if things can just spontaneously pop into existence, then why not people, and bicycles. Heck why stop there, we should expect to see things disappearing from existence too! I mean after all the entire universe could she allegedly accomplished this according to Con, so these examples should be a synch!

V. Time
I would liek to inform voters that the Wheeler De-Witt equation is just one of a plethora of ways in which quantum mechanics and relativity have attempted to be reconciled. And this remains a significant extant problem today, and there is absolutely no consensus on which theory is even most likely to be true, let alone a well substantiated one. Therefore Pro's presentation of this equation is an extremely controversial one, much much more controversial than the denial of PSR!

You can look uo a whole host of attempts to reconcile QM and relativity, loop quantum gravity, string theory, etc. Take your pick, there is absolutely no shortage of possible explanations at this moment in is mimed, therefore to advocate for any specific one is quite simply an argument ad ignorantum.

My reasons for accepting A-series of time go much farther than prima facie plausibility, and I listed them in the previous round.

The delayed choice quantum eraser experiment has a multitude of interpretations, and again is highly controversial as indicated by the Zelinger group.[1]

VI. Sustaining
Pro has only thrown up one objection in response to my sustaining arguments, and this was it was possible for God to create the universe out of itself and then separate the universe from itself. However Pro's analogy breaks down quite severely, and I only presented my own analogy to illustrate what an efficient and material cause would be.

First, consider that consciousness is a fundamentally basic 'material', hence to suggest that such an entity could be separated/ split is nonsensical. If we consider material, contingent things then this objection would make sense, but we are limited to talking about one cause for the FTA and KCA arguments, and those causes cannot be material, space, or physically contingent, as they simply did not exist before the origin of the universe.

Recall that both of these arguments argue for a conscious entity, now tell me, what does it mean to split the colour red? Or to split the number three? Or to separate your awareness of yourself. You will quickly see that such talk is nonsensical, as to talk of partitioning consciousness is to challenge that consciousness is a fundemental substance. It is true that consciousness can change, awareness will change, memories too, but it is impossible to separate a conscious substance to yield an unconscious one and a conscious one.

As such, even if Pro's analogy held, then God would still be sustaining the universe, except there would be 'more of god' elsewhere. The material that the universe is constructed from would still remain conscious, would still be God, much like splitting a red puddle into two still yields two red puddles, and not one red puddle and one green puddle.

VII. Conclusion
I greatly thank Pro for putting up such stiff competition and wish him luck in the voting!!

VIII. References
Debate Round No. 3


Thank you. I want to first tell a story to illustrate the burden of proof.

My opponent, Mr. Envisage owns a bakery in Britain. One day, I, zmikecuber, come along and order a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and the words "Happy Birthday Envisage" written on the front with white frosting.

Now Mr. Envisage must follow my instructions exactly. A vanilla cake will not fulfill the order. Nor will a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Only a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and "Happy Birthday Envisage" on the front in vanilla frosting will fulfill the order. If one of these qualities is lacking to the cake, Mr. Envisage the baker has not met my demands.

Either Mr. Envisage will fulfill the order, or he will not. If he does fulfill the order, he must fulfill the order *exactly* as I prescribed. This means that even if he gets everything right except the wording, or the color of the letters, the order has not been fulfilled. In fact, even if he gets really close to fulfilling the order, this doesn't matter at all. He still hasn't fulfilled it.

So, to the voters, I am ordering a cake. My opponent must demonstrate *each* and *every* quality of God. Even if he gets every quality except for one, this doesn't matter. In order to meet the burden he must show every quality. If I show that he has not met his burden in *one* of the qualities of God, he has not met his burden for the entire debate.

The God that must be shown
Recall, my opponent must show these qualities.

1. God is intelligent
2. God is omnipotent
3. God sustains the universe in existence.

I shall show that, even if the FTA and KCA arguments are sound, he has not shown that God is omnipotent, and that God sustains the universe in existence.

Then I shall show that he has not proven the existence of God by refuting the FTA and KCA.

I will drop my re-formulation of my opponent's argument. I don't think it's a strawman, but this is just taking up character space.

My opponent's argument is...

C1 The universe has a conscious fine tuner
P3 If the universe has a conscious fine tuner, it must be all-powerful
C2 The universes" conscious fine tuner is all-powerful (God)

I shall show that my opponent has not proven P3 here.

My opponent claims that we do not have knowledge of units of power. However, this is meant as an analogy to show that just because I create the universe, this doesn't mean that I am all powerful.

If I am powerful enough to lift an enormous rock, does this mean I am all-powerful? Of course not.

My opponent also argues that we cannot have any measurement of power without the existence of the universe.

He claims... "That's exactly why God MUST be omnipotent, since he has created the framework by the very which we can have power in the first place."

But this is a big problem. If the universe, or something physical must exist for us to have power, how can God then have *any* power? My opponent says that this means God is omnipotent. However, it shows just the opposite. It shows that something outside of the universe can't have any power at all.

So if we assume that there are units of power which are non-physical, then my original argument refutes God's omnipotence. If there are immaterial measurements of power, then God only has to be "more powerful" than the universe, and doesn't have to be all-powerful.

If there are only physical units of power, then God can't have any power. Since of course, God existed eternally as opposed to the universe, and created it. But if there are only physical units of power, God can't possibly have any power!

My opponent illustrates the point nicely...

"Power = Energy/Time

But, neither energy nor time exist without the universe,"

And if there are no energy or time without the universe, there is also no power without the universe, and God is not all powerful.

Sustaining the universe in existence
My opponent argues that consciousness is indivisible. Thus, it's impossible for God to seperate the universe from himself, and is needed for the existence of the universe.

There's two problems here. First, we need not assume that God created the universe from his own material. This is merely a possibility, and has not been shown to be the case.

Secondly, my opponent is assuming that consciousness is immaterial. This has not been shown. This is a bare assertion.

But a deeper problem lies... If consciousness is indivisible, how on earth could God create the universe out of his consciousness? If we can't possibly, even in principle, divide an experience in half, how can we make anything out of it?

My opponent has shot himself in the foot here.

My opponent concedes that he has not shown that life could not develop in other ways. However, in doing so, he is admitting that there might be other ways for the universe to be in order to develop life. Perhaps there are an infinite amount of ways to develop life! My opponent's argument needs to show that there is only *one* way for life to develop before he can get this argument off the ground.

My opponent also simply ignores my main argument.

First, how do we know we are in a scientific position to be able to tell the difference between real design, and the appearance of design? If we don't know if we are in the position to be able to tell them apart, then we can't know if we can really tell them apart.

Remember, real design, and the appearance of design would be almost indistinguishable. But if we don't know if we can tell them apart, we won't be able to accurately tell them apart.

My opponent repeats again that the number of universes which do not have life greatly outnumber the amount of universes which do have life. However, how can he say this, if he admits that he doesn't know all the possible different ways life could have developed? He can't.

I have argued that we should not assume the cause is personal if we don't need to. This is a simple application of Occam's razor.

My opponent claims that we have no examples of impersonal immaterial causes, but we do have examples of impersonal immaterial causes... In other words minds.

But this is a big problem. He has not given any evidence to think that minds are even immaterial in the first place! So I can say to him, exactly what he is saying to me.

We have zero evidence of any 'personal immaterial substance'. As such it is substantially more sound to appeal to what we do know than to appeal to what we don't know.

My arguments regarding why causality doesn't necessarily apply to the universe still stand. It is not a special pleading. A special pleading is when the two situations are essentially the same, yet when I'm in the situation, the rules are different.

This is not what I am saying. I have given examples of why the universe coming into existence and things around us coming into existence are not necessarily comparable. Why? Because the universe doesn't exist "within" the universe, and the universe doesn't exist "in time". So it's not a special pleading here.

My opponent is saying "Well apples are red, so Oranges are probably red too."

He's saying "Well things inside the universe and in time have a cause, so things not inside of the universe and not in time have a cause too." He can't do this.

I don't think I need to say much here. My opponent ignores my point that prima facie plausibility doesn't definitively prove something.

Tables feel like they're mostly made up of matter, but they are mostly empty space. Why can't it be the same with time? It feels like time is passing, but it really isn't.

Thanks to my opponent for this debate! I've had a good time and hope he has as well. For all the readers, take note. Envisage is one of the must underrated debaters on DDO. Don't underestimate him.

But, in conclusion, my opponent has not met his burden. His arguments (FTA and KCA) are questionable, and even if they succeed, they don't fit the bill.

Envisage hasn't made the right cake.


I once again thank zmikecuber for such an excellent debate, and loved the cake reference!

No round as agreed.
Debate Round No. 4
63 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Geogeer 7 years ago
Finally got some time... sorry about the delay.

Round 1b, Pro does a good job of establishing the fine tuning argument & Kalam. Good start.

1 or 4
Posted by Geogeer 7 years ago
Round 2a - Con attacks the premise of God being all powerful (If he had not listed this in round 1a as the attributes of God to be debated I probably would all but discount this argument - unfortunately for Pro it sticks) through semantics. Similarly he questions Con's ability to show that God sustains the universe. Questions the ability to determine what is designed and what appears designed due to our inability to understand otherwise. Con goes on to validly state that just because we exist due to fine tuning that a different tuning wouldn't result in life. Finally Con questions the validity of "time" and pushes for B series time.

2b - Con come roaring back arguing that since God can manipulate the very variables on which the universe operates that his power is by definition without limits. This does not fully address zmike's counter as zmike is discussing power to create the universe and all within it may tap out a significant amount of God's ability. This argument only deals with what is in the universe. Con effectively repels mike on the fine tuning argument by reintroducing the concept of fine tuning by showing that minute changes in the tuning wouldn't just result in minor changes in the universe, but in universes that are sterile of any of the common structures we associate with the universe. Pro's use of the Casmir Effect independent of time is effective (he should provide some basic explanation of it). Cons assertion of A series of time convinces me. Sustainter - Universe is part of God!?! This was one that I was not expecting! (I'm not judging on my critique here, but I would caution Pro against this argument in the future. If God is all powerful as Pro claims then the fact that the universe has entropy and reaches lower states of energy would appear to be a logical refutation of this argument) However, the mind/matter argument sustains the KCA.
Posted by Geogeer 7 years ago
3a - Con hits hard on the infinite power again by stating that Power is the ability to actualize potential and that if God was unable to create a greater universe than ours he is limited. This is a brutally tough argument to overcome. Sustaining - Con argues that the universe is separated from God"s matter and thus is self-sustaining in and of itself. I do not find that this argument countered Pro"s contention because Pro is not arguing that the universe was created from God, but that the universe is God (once again I would caution Pro that this would bring limits to God and thus make him not all powerful, because the universe could only have as much matter as God has). Finely tuned - Con notes again that Pro never directly addressed the difference between finely tuned and apparently finely tuned. Repeating the argument that time and matter are not necessarily linked and that we observe everything acting in time because we are inside. Con effectively uses the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment an the Wheeler De Witt equation to bolster the B-Time theory.
Posted by Geogeer 7 years ago
3b - I still don"t find that Pro has actually contended with Con"s all powerful argument (and it is really a shame because it is really just a stupid semantics argument that Pro got snookered into accepting). Kudos for trying though. Minds argument for fine tuning while good still doesn"t address how we know the difference between a finely-tuned and a coincidental result that appears to be finely tuned. KCA - appeal to what we do know, talking about things popping into existence (is that Con"s actual contention?). Time - pro shows that the Wheeler equation is just a theory and not proven.

4a - All powerful - Con holds.
Con gets trapped into using power as a definition for "power". It doesn"t kill his case though.

Sustaining - Con question"s Pro"s ability to say that consciousness is immaterial. True, but Pro is also arguing for the matter of the universe to be part of God.

FTA - Con holds that pro never addressed the issue of design vs. perceived design.

KCA - Time holds Pro.

If Pro had held the nature of God as per the opening round definitions and one of FTA or KCA I would have given him the debate. Unfortunately he was unable to hold the all powerful part. Points to con on semantics.
Posted by Geogeer 7 years ago
I can see why Envisage was interested in my debate on "Is it necessary for God to be infinitely powerful?"

I'll post my RFD tonight.
Posted by RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial 7 years ago
I have voted on this debate accurately and apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Posted by Tweka 7 years ago
Royalteaparty's vote is a total nonsense and does not make much sense. I think he does not even read the debate at all. He is just standing by whoever pro at god's existence. His reason of voting is poorly mentioned.
Posted by Envisage 7 years ago
Wtf at Royalteaparty's vote?

Posted by Geogeer 7 years ago
Envisage, I was just thinking about voting on this. I'm at work right now (yes Mike, I know...), but I'm hoping to vote on this tonight!
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Geogeer 7 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: It was a really good debate. I'm just getting my vote in before the deadline. I'll follow up later tonight with an RFD. Envisage put up a really good fight. Mike was weak in a few areas, but managed to hold envisage off... this time.
Vote Placed by telisw37 7 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made a better case.
Vote Placed by Toviyah 7 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments

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