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The Contender
Pro (for)
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Science has shown or is about to show that we don't need God as an explanation

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/3/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 949 times Debate No: 56004
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I want to debate whether or not science has shown or is on the verge of showing that God isn't needed to explain the universe or that God doesn't exist. In other words, does science show God to be less plausible?

Note, this is not a debate about Christianity per se or any other religion. It is a debate about God in general versus science and the discoveries of modern science.
BOP is on pro to show that science has shown this, although this is not a matter of definitive proof.

Also. this is not a debate over whether God does exist or the merits of the arguments for God's existence itself, only whether science can show the arguments to be flawed.

First round make your argument, then we go from there.



I accept. I thank you for offering this interesting debate, though I originally thought that I was going to debate as Con. I would like to state that I am not an atheist and I do believe in the Christian God. Nevertheless, I will attempt to show that we are on the verge of a scientific breakthrough that will make the idea of a creator god less plausible.

First, I would like to compare what we know strictly from science versus what we know from religion. Thanks to some scientific breakthroughs in the field of quantum mechanics and string theory, we now know an incredible amount of knowledge of how the universe works, the various particles that make up our universe, and how we have been created. On the other hand, few of the ancient religions address these insights that we have today. Although most have a creation story, these are far from accurate. Young Earth Creationism has almost no solid scientific evidence, and the stars and galaxies took about a billion years to form after the Big Bang, rather than in 7 days. And in no where does a religious text talk about physics, elements, atoms, or anything pertaining to the scientific knowledge we have today. While I'm not suggesting that a religious text should have Maxwell's equations written in them, religious texts fail to address even the most basic concepts of our universe.

Now we must look at how far science has gotten us today. While there are still many unanswered questions in physics, we are closer than ever to creating a GUT, a grand unified theory of the four fundamental forces of nature. Our Standard Model is almost complete, which contains all of the particles and fundamental forces, with exception to gravity and some exotic concepts such as dark matter. The Higgs Boson was finally confirmed to exist last year, which is monumental in physics because it gives other particle their mass. The important thing to look at is whether we are on a "verge" of finally understanding our universe. Given our rapid discoveries of revolutionizing ideas in the 20th century, I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to continue this and eventually complete the Standard Model and have a GUT.

We must also look at our creation and how we have become what we are today. The Big Bang Theory is widely accepted today as the beginning of the universe, rather than some religious creation story. We have massive amounts of evidence to support this such as cosmic background radiation that still resonates from the Big Bang. Also, evolutionism is the mainstream theory to explain how humans were created. Similarities with DNA, fossil records, and structural similarities all point towards us having a common ancestor with apes. Natural selection also is an explanation for our "intelligent design". Rather than having a creator that crafted us to be complex creatures, science suggests that we have these traits because they help us survive and reproduce, allowing them to be passed on from generation to generation.

A note to voters: I have not included any links primarily due to the philosophic nature of my arguments. Indeed, it is difficult to find a website that would support my arguments. The only thing I could possibly cite is some information regarding concepts such as the Big Bang, topics that I have touched upon only briefly. This knowledge comes from my general knowledge and education from school, but should a casual reader be unfamiliar with these concepts, it should not be difficult for them to look them up on a website such as wikipedia to get a brief overview. If however, my opponent insists on having citations in our debate, I will of course be willing to cite articles or websites next round that reaffirm my basic arguments.

I look forward to seeing your arguments next round.
Debate Round No. 1


I will first make my main argument for science being unable to explain certain things, then I will answer your argument specifically. In order to do this we have to rembmer that this is not a question about specific religions or revelations, e.g. Christianity or the Bible. It is just a debate over theism and science.

I. My Principle Argument

1) There are certain questions that are not answerable with science but have to be answered using other tools and disciplines
2) The questions which provide starting points for the traditional case for God are among these questions
3) These questions (the ones mentioned in the point above) are generally regarded as part of the discipline of philosophy

It seems evident then that if the traditional theistic case for God rests on philosophical questions unanswerable by science, then the conclusion that science can't show GOd is unecessary follows. The main work of this argument then is showing that the traditional theist case rests on these questions.

Leaving aside the ontological arguments for God's existence and ones based on specific religious experiences or miracles, there are three main a posterori arguments for the existence of God: The transcendent argument, cosmological argument, and design argument. The first has to do with why there are things like objective morals or goodness in the world. Obviously science has nothing to do with this argument. This leaves the two main arguments for God as possbily related to science because they do relate to our physical world.

As for the cosmological argument, the main question is: Why is there any contingent thing in existence? Of course, contingent things are the types of things which in principlecould fail to exist as there is nothing about WHAT they are that entails THAT they exist. Hence, it is a reasonable question to ask why they do in fact exist. The theist has as his main argument that this ultimately requires a necessary being, and unpacking what a necessary being is, so the theist argues, involves certain Divine attributes. Taking a look at the bulk of the first part of Thomas Aquinas's Summa Contra Gentiles provides an example of unpacking what a necessary being would be (considered under a specific Aristotilean description of "unmoved mover"). That is just an example. Here is the point: The question of why there are contingent things in general cannot be answered by science. Science appeals to various objects, mechanisms, and regularities known as laws in order to explain our universe. However, these at least appear to be contingent. There is no way to explain why contingent things exist with appeal to other contingent things. Hence, one must get outside the circle which science is trapped in. Some might argue that these things which science works with are in fact necessary, yet this is ultimately not something science can in principle determine, hence, it is a philosophical assertion with a philosophical answer.

Similarly, a traditional design argument will ask why there is order or intelligibility in the universe. However, science cannot answer these questions, whatever their answer may be. The reason is simple: Any scientific explanation of anything presuposses an orderly mechanism and an intelligble universe (one that in principle can be understood, at laest by some mind). Science cannot explain what it presuposes as an axiom and therefore has no force against a traditonal design argument.

It is true that some arguments have been made in these categories and others which can be shown to be false by science. But simply because a weak argument is made doesn't mean the actual belief itself and the robust philosophical tradition behind the belief is somehow undermined by science. Someone could make a bad argument for muder being immoral, an argument that is falsified by science, but that doesn't mean science is making the case that murder is moral. Of course, that would ignore the real reason why ethicists have considered murder to be wrong. The analogy holds with theism.

II. Your Arguments

Your arguments seem to be hinging on a few false assumptions. First of all, simply because science has more predictive power than religion does not mean that it is more true. Religion is not trying to explain what science is trying to explain. Moreover, even if every religion was false, it would not show that God does not exist, or really even undermine the case as the question of GOd's existence is independent from whether or not a specific revelation is true (e.g. Christianity).

Second, the big bang is a theory about how the universe began, not about why physical reality exists. No matter what mechanism caused the big bang, it is necesarily just another contingent fact. Ultimately, it does not explain reality in the way that the theist is trying to. Perhaps there is no explanation, but this itself is just a philosophical claim, one that science can't in prinicple support. Also, understanding how the universe began doesn't tell us whether or not it is created. A story is written by an author no matter how it begins and any information we get from the beginning does not tell us if there is an author or really much about the author that couldn't be discovered via any other part of the story. The beginning isn't special. Traditionally, theists regard God's creation as a continuos act including but not limted to the beginning.

Third, evolution doesn't tell us that life isn't designed, it only tells us how different species came to be.

Fourth, a GUT doesn't undermine God. Why there is a GUT and why it exists in the way it does is just one more expample of a contingent physical fact which ultimately needs a philosophical explanation.


Some interesting points, Pro. First off, the purpose of my arguments with the GUT and other scientific breakthroughs was to illustrate how much more we know today about how the universe works. Before modern science, people would attribute scientific phenomena as an act of God, and it was believed that He caused plagues, natural disasters, etc. The title of this debate was "Science has shown or is about to show that we don't need God as an explanation". So while a GUT doesn't disprove God's existence, there is less of a need for Him as an explanation for governance of the universe. You stated that "theists regard God's creation as a continuous act including but not limited to the beginning". With a GUT, it is possible to explain every interaction between particles in the universe. Whether or not God intervenes in the universe, we cannot say, but it is possible to explain the universe without Him.

"Evolution doesn't tell us that life isn't designed". So through a double negative, are you saying that evolution tells us that life is designed? Evolution helps explain why humans are who we are, without having to use the idea that God created us through intelligent design. Of course, the design argument goes beyond the biological design, but I'll address that in a moment.

My opponent has essentially turned this into an existence of God debate by employing three a posteriori arguments, even though he explicitly stated in the first round that this was not about God's existence. Nevertheless, I will address his arguments that he made.

I'll begin with transcendental argument. Science could say that the reason for morality is that a society would be ungovernable without one. Through evolution, humans who had a sense of morality and didn't do things such as kill their neighbors were more likely to survive because working together in a group offered protection and more success at hunting and finding mates. On the other hand, a god doesn't necessarily imply goodness of morality. For that argument, we would have to know the nature of god itself. While the Christian God is benevolent and would promote goodness and morality, it is also possible for a malevolent god or a dystheistic god.

However, the even bigger question is: Does morality exist? To quote Rousseau on this matter, "Savages are not evil precisely because they do not know what it is to be good." To say morality exists because of a god, we must look at our definition of morality and whether it is equally applied everywhere. Something such as cannibalism, which is considered evil by humans, may be widely practiced by some animals. Do animals feel a sense of guilt when they kill other animals? We may never know. And even if morality does exist, is it objective or subjective? Humans do not all have the same sense of morality and the line between right and wrong is often hazy. While some people think abortion is wrong, other might think it is a woman's right to decide what she wants to do with her fetus. So, science can be seen as an explanation for why morality exists through evolution, if it even exists at all.

The cosmological argument is inherently flawed by attempting to avoid infinite causality by attributing everything back to a single, initial cause. However, we must ask ourselves what caused this initial cause. How did God come into existence? If the cosmological argument is that there was a single beginning, why did this beginning begin?

Even if we assume the cosmological argument is correct, one could easily use it from a scientific standpoint as well. First of all, the cosmological argument does not necessarily imply a god. Therefore, one could say that the Big Bang was the unmoved mover of the universe. Now, one might object to this argument and use the same argument as I did, asking what caused the Big Bang. They might reason that the creator god caused the Big Bang. However, this is inconceivable, since the Big Bang also created space-time. In other words, there was nothing before the Big Bang, not even time or nothing itself. This might be hard to imagine, but in outer space, there is almost no matter and it is a vacuum. However, the space-time fabric and the framework for what matter could exist in did not exist. Thus, the beginning of the universe lies with the Big Bang, and any before this is impossible.

Once again, evolution plays a role in refuting the design argument. Any arguments for intelligent design could simply be the forces of natural selection at work. Now if we examine the conditions for life to exist, we see that there is a very narrow range for life to exist under temperature, weak force constant, gravitational constant, etc. However, the anthropic principle states that our universe must be within this narrow range because if it wasn't, no life would be able to observe it. As to why the universe has order and is intelligible, this may be little more than a coincidence of nature. God has not enabled other animals to have a working knowledge of the universe. Only humans, who obtained a more intelligent brain through evolution, have gained this ability. Does an intelligible universe rule out the possilbility of a universe governed by science? I don't see why it should. Does an intelligible universe necessarily imply a god? Not necessarily. To use your analogy, being able to understand a "story" doesn't tell us anything about the author itself. Perhaps some superior being did fashion our universe, but this does not mean they are omnipotent or even the creator of the universe.

Debate Round No. 2


Dmot forfeited this round.


Seeing that my opponent has forfeited this round, I extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3


Dmot forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by khe618 7 years ago
Damn it. Lol I thought I was con when i accepted this.
Posted by dsjpk5 7 years ago
I almost accepted, but then realized that you were con.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Themba 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: Con abandoned the debate by forfeiting the last few rounds. Damn it, was hoping for a good read. FF-Conduct to Pro.

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