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Strong Atheism is a Sound Position

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/10/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,940 times Debate No: 71459
Debate Rounds (4)
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The BoP is on me to demonstrate the resolution is true. My distinguished opponent Mykeil may either refute my arguments (so I fail to meet my BoP), or provide stronger arguments of his/her own for the antithesis (that Strong Atheism is an Unsound Position) to win.


Strong Atheism: The belief that there is no god(s)
God: An intelligent being that is an omnipotent, omniscient cause of the universe

Note that omnibenevolence has been omitted from God's qualities (I don't intend to use arguments from evil etc).

72h, 10,000 words, 3 rounds
BoP on Pro

Round 1: Acceptance, Rules
Round 2: Arguments, Rebuttals
Round 3: Arguments, Rebuttals
Round 4: Rebuttals, No new arguments

Best of Luck!


Thank you Envisage. I look forward to seeing your arguments. I suspect they will not be easily refuted.

God bless you.
Debate Round No. 1


For a very unusual & rare change, I am actually going to forward the exact reason as to why I am a strong atheist, and I look forward to seeing Mykeil’s challenges these.

Inference to Best Explanation
Abductive reasoning (inference to best explanation) is a form of reason that is best used when inductive and deductive arguments cannot suffice.[2] It is the type of reason used in science, philosophy, and history today, and many premises used to justify inductive or deductive arguments actually have abductive grounding.

In abductive reasoning, we seek to find the most likely explanation for a certain set of data. Thus, unlike with deductive reasoning, the conclusion is not guaranteed, but a best-educated guess. While there may be many possible for any given data set, we can prioritise which ones are most likely.

To see abduction in action, I offer the following example, if we see a new puddle in our back yard which was not there before, and we had two possible explanations:

1.A large ice block melted there yielding the puddle
2.It rained last night

Via. abduction it is possible to prioritise which explanation is more likely, given they both can explain the observation of water existing. Factors such as prior likelihood, which is determined by factors such as multitude of assumptions, explanatory power, coherence, background knowledge, etc. all come into play. For this debate I will argue that metaphysical naturalism, which is the notion that everything within the universe is explicable by natural laws and that the universe itself does not require a sentient cause.

1. Explanatory Power
The notion that everything within the universe is fully explicable by natural laws is quite obvious, our two most successful theories – theory of relativity and quantum mechanics both predict with exquisite precision what “stuff” within the universe will do. Particle physics, including the highly successful standard model, and generalisations of quantum mechanics which yields Newtonion Physics essentially state exactly what the world of the small and middle-sized stuff will do.[4] Relativity is highly successful in explaining & predicting the expansion of the universe via the Big Bang theory, as well as predicting black holes, time dilation and length contraction, it’s only on scales where quantum gravity is predicted to take precedence where these physical laws lose explanatory power. Theism on the other hand plays virtually no role in explaining any of the observations we have within our universe, not any of the features we would expect of the world as a whole. Given that God is omnipotent, then it follows that God is a theory of anything, and as such, we cannot compute any expectations of what God will do and how he will do it. Given this, it follows that God has exactly zero explanatory power, since there is nothing to differentiate God from any other hypothesis that entails the dataset more explicitly.

2. Law of Parsimony
The Law of Parsimony, a form of Occam’s Razor posits that the simplest explanations are always preferable to ones that multiply complexity.[5] This can be affirmed in the case of metaphysical naturalism vs. theism in a brute deductive, and also a subjective sense.

Quite simply, theism always has the disadvantage over metaphysical naturalism since metaphysical naturalism only entails the physical universe we have observed, whereas any form of theism that wants to remain consistent with science needs to postulate both the physical universe and God.

Note this argument also works for other interpretations of such, such as those posited by pantheism, since it will be the extra attributes that a theistic universe would posit that multiplies complexity. Thus in all cases, naturalism has an inherent advantage in simplicity.

Theism also posits additional attributes such as omnipotence, omniscience, and some non-physical intelligence. We don’t have a quantitative understanding of intelligence, however intelligence clearly inductively requires several basic elements, such as the presence of a process (our minds are causal, in that one thought precedes and is necessary for the next, etc. this chain of events is a process), without which we couldn’t meaningfully call something intelligent. All of these elements add complexity to the concept of theism which yields a less and less likely explanation.

3. Proposition is within Background Knowledge
When searching for explanations, we will always prefer explanations which are already within known experience. Metaphysical naturalism has an enormous advantage here, since the natural world obviously exists, and stuff within the natural world obviously obeys natural laws. Metaphysical naturalism posits very little else apart from these which we already know about. Again it doesn’t matter what the nature of “reality” is, since theism and naturalism are going to be compared on the same plane.

Theism however, posits omnipotence and omniscience, something we have exactly zero experience with, we have no existing knowledge of such omnipotent, omniscient and intelligent beings existing to posit as a possible explanation for the data-set we observe, such an explanation is necessarily beyond our experience. To give an analogy, a bank that is blown up by horses, or chimpanzees, is always going to be a more likely than a bank blown up by centaurs, since the existence of the former two examples are not in question, centaurs are outside our background knowledge and thus are lower on the list of likely explanations.

4. Makes Predictions About Reality
Naturalism inherently is atheistic, thus is predicts a universe that is completely impartial to what happens within it, everything is mechanistic. What we observe is essentially this much, we have a universe that is essentially impartial to life - virtually none of the universe is hospitable to it with only with the amount of it inhabitable comparable to one molecule of water capable of inhabiting a space of six million swimming pools. Moreover naturalism predicts portions of the universe vastly over-tuned for life, such as is found with the cosmological constant.[1]

Theism on the other hand cannot make any predictions whatsoever, due to what I argued in point 1. Because theism is inherently a theory of anything, there is nothing to differentiate one action from another, since theism is capable of any single action.

5. Employment of ad hoc assumptions
I will explore these with my deductive arguments against the existence of God as follows which will do either/both of the following:

1. Refute God
2. Multiply the complexity of God and ad hoc explanations required for God

Thus it is lose-lose in the case of theism.

5.1 Argument From atemporal Minds
I will present in deductive formulation first and affirm the premises second. The argument is logically valid, thus if all three premises are correct, the conclusion necessarily follows:

1. If God exists, then an atemporal mind exists
2. An atemporal mind requires a process
3. All processes are temporal
C. Therefore, God does not exist

P1 is true almost by definition, to argue otherwise is to argue God is temporal, which runs into serious coherency problems regarding God being the cause of the universe since time is contingent upon the universe as shown by general relativity. Thus God cannot be a temporal mind

P2 I already explained in “Law of Parsimony – Subjective”, which follows from an obvious assessment of introspection. Also to argue a mind is not a process is to also concede that the entity is static, and essentially non-causal. Since all things that are not in flux, or in a process are themselves acausal, an extreme example of this is platonic realism (if correct), etc. All things that exist within the universe with efficient causal agency are themselves in flux in some form (e.g. a static rock cannot cause anything to move, since it’s not in flux).

P3. This follows from an obvious inductive assessment of processes, but also coherency problems. Again, if time did not exist, then we would simply have a single three-dimensional slice of something. Nothing would happen, and nothing would be caused, a dead universe. Thus, for anything to ever ‘happen’, there must be a passage of time.

In order for Con to refute this(if its possible), he will certainly need to employ ad hoc/post hoc reasoning, which works against him in my abductive argument.

5.2 Incoherance of a Caused Universe
The structure of this argument is very simple, the implication is very deep, once again if both premises carry then the conclusion necessarily follows. Given that well-established principles are used, it thus requires ad hoc explanations at best to circumvent.

P1. If God exists, then the universe has a cause
P2. The universe cannot have a cause
C. God does not exist

P1 – Is correct by definition
P2 – There are two points here:

1.Without the universe, you have no time
2.Without time, speaking of causes are incoherent

Point 1 is affirmed by general relativity, where we can see that space and time are part of the same fabric, which is ‘pliable’ and ‘stretchable’, thus is physical.[3] Hence, without the universe, we necessarily take away the constructs of it, including space and time. Which leds onto point 2, all causes, in order to be meaningful, need to have a state of affairs where events did or did not happen. Thus in the universe, at t0 – the event has not occurred, yet at t1, the event has occurred, thus being able to differentiate between t1 and t0 allows us to coherently take about causation. Moreover directionality gives causation meaning which requires entropy. Thus we need both time & entropy to coherently talk about causation, both are absent the universe.

Thus, by a scientific approach, we find the God hypothesis fails every single one of the criteria we use to find a best explanatory candidate.




A Deductive argument is considered "Sound' when the premises are true and the inferences are valid. Inductive arguments are not called "sound" they are called "strong". In the literature I have read "soundness" is never used in combination with abductive inference.

Strong Atheism is a philosophical position. Instead of arguing semantics and proper use of terms, I gesture that we use a more colloquial definition of the word "sound". More like the definition of cogency: (of an argument or case) clear, logical, and convincing.

fig. 1

Con1. Doubt Confirms Nothing

Figure 1 is a line with 100% certain God exists at one end, and 100% certain God does not exist at the opposite end. Let's define certainty as a position based on cogent argumentation that implies no possibility for the antithesis.

Even from 99% to 100% strong atheism is quite the leap. Simply put, "It might not be so" can not deduce down to "it is not so". To do so is known as the Prosecutor’s Fallacy.[1] Even if the possibility is 1% that in and of itself implies it does happen and could be the case.

An argument for Strong Atheism would follow this form:

P1. If G then Q.

P2. Not Q.

C1. Therefore Not G.

Assuming P2 is actually true and Q naturally follows from God, such an argument would make God impossible. And in turn make Strong Atheism a cogent or sound philosophical position.[2] Envisage provides such an argument so I move to rebuttals.

R0. Formalizing Inference to Best Explanation (IBE)

IBE is used quite often in our everyday lives. Take for instance the following example:

P1. Tim and Harry were friends.

P2. Time and Harry are seen jogging together.

C1. Time and Harry made-up and are friends again.

This makes sense to us, but logically unsound. The inference does not logically follow the premises. There is no property of jogging together that naturally follows to being friends. IBE is criticized for being a known fallacy Affirming the consequent.[3] Which is a formal fallacy, a pattern of reasoning which renders the argument invalid due to a flaw in its logical structure.

To demarcate IBE from circular speculation let us establish some formalization to garner more confidence in this method.

Three conditions for an hypothesis (H) to be a good explanation for event (E):

IBE 1. Causation Condition: H makes a claim about something that caused E. It may describe the nature of a known cause, or posit the existence of a previously unknown cause. This should be accepted because a cause should be sufficient to produce the effect.

IBE 2. Inference Condition: E can be inferred from H, to a high degree.

IBE 3. Plausibility Condition: H is relatively likely to be true, compared to competing hypotheses, given our background knowledge. Say a Cause(C) is postulated in H for E. If C is contingent on C1, C2, etc. If C1 is not present then C makes H considerably less valid.

Karl Popper relegates IBE to the formation of hypotheses. Stating the discovery of new ideas can not be found in a systematic logic. "The initial stage, the act of conceiving or inventing a theory, seems to me neither to call for logical analysis nor to be susceptible of it". Charles S. Peirce concludes there must be some logic or, at least, heuristic for scientific discovery. Abduction is this method.[4][5]

R2. Law of Parsimony

Parsimony is an heuristic principle. The use of word "law" is anecdotal, not necessarily true or reliable based on personal accounts rather than facts or research. It is like Murphy's Law. Most do not expect their cars to not start every morning due to a series of possible malfunctions.

Scientist are not ashamed to posit additional as yet unobserved entities if the current body of evidence is insufficient to account for an Event.

In the 1800s, scientists found that Mercury’s perihelion shifts in slowly around the Sun. Scientist postulated the existence of another planet called Vulcan. The solution to the mystery of Mercury’s orbit came in 1915, when Einstein modified and improved Newton's laws with his new theory of relativity.[6]

Einstein added another dimension to make his formulas work: Time. A method used today by Scientist who conjecture this universe being the event horizon of a 4 dimensional black hole, or the addition of special matter that only interacts gravitationally (Dark Matter, Dark Energy).

If what is known is insufficient to cause an event, it is not illogical to seek what is not known.

R1(+4). Explanatory Power, Makes Predictions About Reality

Envisage posits: "Theism always has the disadvantage over metaphysical naturalism since metaphysical naturalism only entails the physical universe we have observed." Exemplifies the Problem with Induction.[7]

The understanding of Science increases with time, objects that are in the domain of "Supernatural" transition into the domain of "Natural". One driving force to this transition is new evidence, previously held explanations are insufficient or based on incomplete understandings. Clearly some Supernatural objects exist, for some objects have existed before their transition into the domain of scientific explanation.

In the beginning... of time, t+1 is the earliest in which the Laws of Nature as we know them remain unbroken. Even the amount of matter in the universe, can be different to what it was before the Big Bang (t+1), as the Law of Conservation of Matter, will break down at the Big Bang. (Stephen Hawking [8])

Making a Metaphysical Naturalistic explanation of the universe incoherent. Unfalsifiable. Ultimately insufficient.

R3 Proposition is within Background Knowledge

"Theism however, posits omnipotence and omniscience, something we have exactly zero experience ... such an explanation is necessarily beyond our experience."

Truth is not contingent on being experienced by mankind. Things on the quantum level are not experienced macroscopically. To educate ourselves we often simplify subjects into human relatable analogies. Take the well-known analogy of a marble on a rubber sheet to explain the bending of space-time in General Relativity. The erroneous conclusion would be that a marble on a trampoline would simulate the orbit of any planet This is simply not the case.[9]

I postulate that "truths" become universal and absolute, the more they depart from the context of human experience.

Con2: Absolute truths

2.1 Mathematical Argument

P1. Only the abstract and immaterial can be universally true.

P2. Mathematical concepts and relationships are abstract and immaterial.

C1. Mathematical concepts and relationships are universally true.

P1 is accepted because when removed from the spatiotemporal conditions the statement is either true for all universal conditions or for none.

2.2 Warping of Space-time Argument

Space-time is not energy nor is it matter. Yet we do ascribe physical attributes to it when we say it stretches or curves. If space-time is not matter nor is it energy this is a very loose description of physical and the Metaphysical Naturalist who postulates "all is physical" allows for greater diversity in object properties than I would say is fair. Maybe Envisage can touch on this point further.

R5. Employment of ad hoc assumptions

And Now we come full circle. I want to thank Envisage for structuring the debate so well.

Is Strong Atheism, as a philosophical position, logically sound on some argumentation. The cogent argument for such a position being valid, truthful premises, valid inferences and negate the possibility for God.

R5.1 Argument From atemporal Minds

R5.1.1 Minor Rebuttal Pantheism

Using Metaphysical Naturalism we can reduce the emergent phenomena of mind to interactions between nodes. For the machinations to emerge a mind the logic gates must be able to open in may valued states. This is what we have with quantum wave-functions. The entire universe could be one large divine mind going through the process of thought. As a whole encompassing all spacetime and thereby fulfilling the defined attributes of God.[10,11]

R5.2 Incoherence of a Caused Universe

It would behoove the Atheist to compose their own arguments instead of using one's generated by Theist.

The roots of this argument, almost verbatim, comes from Book 11 in Confessions (circa 400a.d.) by St. Augustine. The question that some ask Augustine, "what was God doing before He created the Heavens and the Earth" is completely inapplicable. Augustine puts it "for there was no 'then' when there was no time" - "There was no time, therefore, when thou hadst not made anything, because thou hadst made time itself".[12]

Nothing in the description of God infer he is atemporal. Just that God is external to THIS spacetime.


Strong Atheism, (100% believe God does not exist) is an "Unsound" position. The arguments to support it are composed of untrue premises, the inferences are invalid. The conclusions do not negate the antithesis "God exists" and therefore as a philosophical position should be upheld by the rational mind.













Debate Round No. 2


Logical soundness only applies to arguments, given that the resolution is clearly not about logical soundness, and strong atheism is clearly not an argument, but a position (as stated in the resolution), applying the logical soundness definition to it is absurd.

So a colloquial definition along the lines of cogency, or “most likely correct” is entailed by the context. Given Con advocates this in the beginning of his round I have absolutely no idea why Con proceeds to attack the logical validity of my arguments, given they are not deductive arguments (nor are they intended to be) except my two explicit deductive arguments for strong atheism. Con can attack the validity of my arguments to attempt to mitigate their role in affirming the resolution, but that is not to say my arguments are non-topical.

Strong Atheism
Pro sets himself a massive strawman by stating that strong atheism has anything to do with certainty whatsoever. I provided an explicit definition in R1:

“The belief that there is no god(s)“

There is nothing here that states anything about certainty, thus all of Con’s rebuttals regarding certainty of “there existing no God” can be dismissed out of hand. We do not operate on certainty on issues of ontology/claims regarding realism, thus even the interpretation is completely misplaced.

Inference to Best Explanation
I stated from the outset that the conclusion is not guaranteed, and like inductive arguments, they are either strong or weak, rather than sound and unsound. What inference to best explanation provides is a methodology for sorting the most likely explanations from the least likely explanations. Any set of data may have more than one explanation, however that is not to say all possible explanations are equally likely from the outset, abductive reasoning does exactly what we need to sift bad explanations from the good explanations.

Moreover, abductive reasoning does not commit the affirming the consequent fallacy, a much more accurate depiction is Bayes Theorum (probabilistic abduction),[2] which attempts to determine probabilities of an explanation given a set of data and prior probabilities of each hypothesis. The criteria I listed in the previous round are ubiquitous in the Scientific, Historical, and Philosophical methods, hence if one is to remain intellectually consistent, then without a deductive defeater these arguments do forward a strong positive case against God’s existence.[3]

2. Law of Parsimony
Con’s seems to reject the law of parsimony on weight, however he clearly concedes that theism violates the law of parsimony, both severely and necessarily so. I made arguments in my opening that multiplying the complexity of the explanation is unnecessary to explain our observations of the universe. Naturalism has been shown to be both sufficient and efficacious hence extraneous entities are not needed.

To defend the Law, I will propose an analogy, imagine a box, to which you do not know of the contents. The atheist is claiming there is a crayon inside the box, wheras the theist is claiming that there is a red crayon in the box. The atheist is necessarily going to have a greater probability of being correct since he making less assumptions. To extend this, an atheist may claim there is no red crayon within the box, and the theist is claiming there is a red crayon within the box. Here we must deal with contradictory entities, since perhaps there is an apple in the box instead consuming the spaciotemporal location, hence it is impossible for a red crayon to exist in there. We can repeat this for any number of hypothetical entities within the box, the more possible entities, the less likely it is that the “red crayon” hypothesis is correct. In the case of theism, we have much greater number of possibilities which do not make the extra assumptions of omnipotence, omniscience, or intelligence, thus all things equal are more likely to be true.

Regarding Einstein, Con misunderstands the difference between a scientific “Law” and a scientific “Theory. Einstein presented the theory of relativity, which provides explanatory power, whereas Newton only gave a generalised Law, which provides no explanatory power by definition, thus it’s completely unanalogous.[1] In this debate, we are attempting to determine the explanatory nature, and Newton’s Law, even if it was explanatory, failed since it did not explain the dataset presented both in practice and in principle. We do not have that problem in naturalism.

1 & 4.Explanatory & Predictive Power
Con also drops the fact that theism has exactly zero explanatory power, and hence he cannot hope to win this argument. Moreover, Pro conflates “Natural” with “Metaphysical Naturalism” as defined. It is true that new objects of query have entered our realm of knowledge, however these are all known to obey natural laws. New particles have been discovered, yet their behaviour can be modelled extremely precisely with the standard model. Even objects of enquiry that are poorly measured (e.g. dark matter/energy) are at the very least seen to be obeying natural laws, which is metaphysical naturalism as defined.

The discovery of objects of entiry that clearly do not obey natural laws would obviously falsify metaphysical naturalism in a heartbeat. Thus, Con’s objection actually hurts his own case, rather than aids it. Moreover, Con abusively conflates “breaking down of laws”, to give a comparison, our newtonion laws “break down” at the subatomic level, however what is actually happening is that our “Newtonion Law” is actually a macroscopic generalised state of affairs that actually obeys Quantum Mechanics. Thus it is not that Newtonion Laws “break down”, except that these laws are not fundamental, and other laws are (which only lends support to the thesis of metaphysical naturalism).[4]

3. Proposition is within Background Knowledge
Con also drops this point, that theism is not within our background knowledge. Moreover, Con misunderstands my argument here, that generally things we know already exist are more likely to be explanations of a state of affairs than ones we do not know exist given all things equal. It is of course possible that it is something else (although the likelihood of it being a specific something is another matter), but one is epistemologically justified in accepting a prior known explanation over an unknown one.

The reasoning is because we know metaphysical naturalism is a possible explanation (since we obviously know the natural law obeying world exists), however we do not know if theism is a possible explanation. Thus, theism entails an uncertainty factor that naturalism simply does not have. On a probability diagram we have the following consideration:

To give a rudimentary mathematical example, when comparing theism and naturalism, if all other things are equal, then both explanations have a 50% chance of being correct (for arguments sake) IF they were possible explanations. We know naturalism is a possible explanation, thus we can multiply the probability of it being a possible explanation (1) against the probability of being the actual explanation if it is possible (0.5), leaning to a 0.5, or 50% overall probability of being correct. With theism however, we do not know it’s probability of being a possible explanation, however we can assign an epistemic possibility, which necessarily is less than 1, which when multiplied against its condition probability, gives a probability of less than 50%, and hence is less likely than metaphysical naturalism.

What Con proposes instead however, is equitable to epistemological solipsism, since he implicitly concedes that we cannot make such probabilistic inferences about the world.

Absolute truths
2.1 Mathematical Argument
Pro hasn’t yet shown how this is relevant to the resolution, so I will wait until he does before addressing it.

2.2 Warping of Space-time Argument
Pro’s argument is based on a strawman of metaphysical naturalism as defined in R2:

the notion that everything within the universe is explicable by natural laws

Hence, his objection here is invalid. I am not advocating for naïve materialism.

5. Employment of ad hoc assumptions

Argument From atemporal Minds
Two Points:

1.Con employs ad hoc reasoning here, which strengthens the abductive argument for naturalism.
2.His entire objection is incoherence since spacetime is contingent upon the universe, thus without the universe, you have no spacetime. Without spacetime, then God can only be atemporal during the creation act, and therefore all my arguments logically apply. We end up with a state of affairs where God must be atemporal, lest the universe not be created which also2. refutes God by contradicting her definition.

Incoherence of a Caused Universe
Con does not respond to this argument, so I will extend. This argument addresses the universe, not God. If the universe cannot be caused, then God is impossible since one of his attributes is impossible (cause of the universe).

Con concedes swathes of ground and mostly only provides mitigation in the form of misunderstandings of the principles presented, and a strawman of what metaphysical naturalism is.




Soundness of Strong Atheism

Strong Atheism is generally accepted to be the positive belief that there is no God.

Few things in this life can be 100% certain, I agree. But I think to go around stating that there is "no god" would require a sound argument that God does not exist. And let the "probably" apply to the uncertainty innate in the argument. I'm not arguing that the conclusion must be 100% certain, but the conclusion if all premises are accepted as true, if all inferences are accepted as valid, then the conclusion must be "No God".

Summary: a Strong Atheist, as opposed to a weak atheist position, most have a sound argument that god does not exist.


Pro makes the claim that Abductive reasoning is the same as Bayesian confirmation techniques. But when reading over his 3rd reference[1] we find the paragraph:

In the past decade, Bayesian confirmation theory has firmly established itself as the dominant view on confirmation... Abduction, in whichever version, assigns a confirmation-theoretic role to explanation: explanatory considerations contribute to making some hypotheses more credible, and others less so. By contrast, Bayesian confirmation theory makes no reference at all to the concept of explanation.

The remaining of the paragraph is an interesting read on how Bayesian theorems can be used with abduction.

R2. Parsimony

It is not a law. It is an heuristic. Newton's 2 body law of gravity does have explanatory power. In fact it is quite accurate in explaining many interactions between 2 large bodies that attract each other. What it lacked was the power to explain Mercury's orbit when relativistic effects begin to change how we on Earth observe the event.

Scientist before Einstein were attempting reconcile what they saw with what Newton's Law said should happen. It was Einstein's theory of relativity they showed the observations of what was happening were being skewed.

And if the Hypothesis can not sufficiently cause the Event, then it is not parsimonious to adhere to the hypothesis. For instance say yesterday I saw a 300 lbs log at the bottom of a hill. I saw a small child playing around the log. The next morning I see the log has been moved uphill to a small outcrop.

One Hypothesis is the child moved the log. It conforms to all the observations I made. Except that the child does not have the strength to move the 300lbs log. Clearly this explanation REQUIRES assuming some other entity.

Pro uses the analogy of a Atheist saying there is a crayon in the box, and a theist saying there is a "red" crayon. however "red" doesn't effect the sounds or any other observation we might make of the box. Envisage explicitly keeps to an adhered belief. Constantly claiming that the "laws of nature" explain all the observations and events mankind has ever, or even will ever make.

Summary, Parsimony is a heuristic tool, that does not conclude an hypothesis to be true over another one. Before it even applies to filtering possible hypothesis, it clearly states it is to assume the hypothesis with less assumptions is correct between hypothesis that sufficiently account for the observation.

R3. Explanatory & Predictive Power

And I feel we should clarify something. When Pro states the "Laws of Nature" he is referring to a fundamental rule set that applies to all interactions in a material world.

But these "Laws" are not the same as the "Newton's Law of Gravity". The latter being a human description or model to explain the prescriptive laws of the former. So when I say "Natural Laws" I will be referring to the ACTUAL rule set that governs the universe. And using "Laws of Nature by Humans" to denote the descriptive human approximations of the Natural Laws.

Pro defines Metaphysical Naturalism himself in round 2, "which is the notion that everything within the universe is explicable by natural laws and that the universe itself does not require a sentient cause"

As my link to Stephen Hawking shows that the Laws of Nature by Humans, break down at the event Pro has brought up, the Big Bang. These Laws of Nature by Humans, breaks down not just at the early expansion of Big Bang, but break down at plank scale levels of events today, and have huge errors when applied to massively large objects like Galaxies, Black holes, and the universe as a whole.

An internal mechanism for the Universe to begin changing 13.8 billion years ago is insufficient. Some claim a perturbation sufficient enough to cause the Universe to begin expanding arose from quantum fluctuations. In Bose-Einstein condensates, a type of material that some say best explains the state of the early universe, we see that fluctuations are eventually reabsorbed by the condensate. That it takes an external source of energy to cause what we see as the universe today.

Some scientist explain this external force as being a higher dimension space of a black hole. [3] Where the scientist comment, "“Their shackles have prevented them from perceiving the true world, a realm with one additional dimension,” they write. “Plato’s prisoners didn't understand the powers behind the sun, just as we don’t understand the four-dimensional bulk universe. But at least they knew where to look for answers.”

Other Scientist push for a Multiverse explanation or Brane explanation for an external cause to the universe.

When researchers theorized about the higgs-boson and what experimental results to look for, they expected to see other particles present themselves, as well as the higgs. But this didn't happen. the other particles were absent and the mass of the higgs-boson was 100,000 times lighter.[4]

So the explanatory power Pro speaks of with regards to the Natural laws (actual fundamental ones) is tautological, "The way things are explains the way things behave". This isn't a shocker. The subtle fallacy is when Pro attempts to claim that Naturalism explains things without God. And he uses the beginning of the Universe as evidence to that claim.

As already shown, the explanatory power belongs to the Naturals Laws but not to the Human descriptions of these laws. And nothing in these Actual Laws negate God, in fact may require God.

This is what happens when a methodology of practice is elevated to being a philosophical view about reality.

R4 Background Knowledge

False dichotomy. It's not a choice between God existing and Natural laws. And if we apply this to hypothesis testing for an event, The beginning of the universe between t-0 and t-1, theist do not choose between the 2. The choice is between Natural Laws alone and Natural Laws plus God. The Materialist can't even say what those Natural Laws are. So despite what Pro says, there is an amount of uncertainty in a Naturalist explanation of such an event.

As stated by Stephen Hawking, NOT even the Law of conservation of Energy and Matter applies during such an event. And even an approximate Law is only applicable if the Universe was a closed system. But it most certainly could have been Open and grew shut, or even semi open today with smaller and smaller pathways for external interactions to occur.

Pro's hypothesis testing is subjective and the values I would argue. but considering these priors are in a poorly understood context I refer to Pro's 2nd reference[2] that concludes: The Bayesian approach to abduction has the merit of offering a complete and harmonious solution, and the price paid is, as already stressed in the past, that a full data collection is needed.

R5.1 Absolute truths

As I stated Pro said, ""Theism however, posits omnipotence and omniscience, something we have exactly zero experience ... such an explanation is necessarily beyond our experience."

Which is why I argued that explanations of things are more truthful, more universal and more absolute when they are beyond human experience.

R5.2 Employment of ad hoc explanations.

Argument from atemporal mind.

I'm refuting that God is atemporal. The minor Contention of gave of Pantheism, that the universe is the mind of God, would be a naturalistic explanation of how God's mind is temporal. And that would be without any additional entities and interactions than hat we have already observed.

The second proposal is that God exists in a plane or dimension outside of our 4th dimensional space. This is no more an assumption then what Scientist already propose such as this universe being the event horizon to a 4D black hole, or multiple universes existing.

Pro asserts that because God would have to exist prior to THIS space-time then God necceassarily atemporal. But that doesn't logically follow. And the only support given is THIS spacetime is the only one that exists.

Incoherence of a caused universe.

This argument always strikes more about language than it does about the universe or reality.

But as I have been stating I am not discussing a time before the universe was created. I have been discussing the event at the beginning of the universe. the cause for universal rapid expansion at t-0 to t-1 plank second.

This is a moment in time and space. It is a moment that the explanations from Materialist break, and a moment in which changes occurred, and the law of causality requires a cause those changes.


I don't have the BoP as stated by Pro in the first round.

The resolution is Strong Atheism is a sound position. To demonstrate that to be true Pro has to show that the denial of God's existence is logically strong. To do that pro has chosen to argue that Metaphysical Naturalism is sufficient to exclude the possibility of God existing. An argument I have presented contention to in that it does not have true premises or that the inferences are invalid.

There is nothing in the Natural Laws of reality that negate the possibility of God. When it comes to the temporal and spatial event of the Big Bang at the beginning of the Universe, Natural Laws as we know them are insufficient.

Strong Atheism is the adherence to a propositional claim not empirically or logically supported.

Debate Round No. 3


T3h Burden

Con drops that there must be 100% certainty to carry the resolution, and I argue further to state that a justified stance that God most likely does not exist is enough to carry strong atheism. A weak atheist is by definition also an agnostic, thus does not make a positive claim regarding the likelihood of God existing or not, they simply do not accept the claim “God exists” has been shown to be correct.

Thus, one can only consider Con’s rebuttals to my arguments, or his positive arguments for God’s existence to sustain the negative notion.

Inference to Best Explanation
Please note my strategy in the diagram below. During this debate I have argued that naturalism is more likely than theism on abductive grounds. If I demonstrate this much then clearly I have upheld the notion of strong atheism is most likely correct. Especially when we consider metaphysical naturalism is only a subset of atheistic philosophies, if theism is not even more likely than this small subset then it becomes very unlikely.

Use of Abductive Reasoning
Pro doesn’t actually make much of an argument against the concept of using abductive reasoning. He ignores that we use abductive reasoning for virtually everything on some level, including for trivial things such as when we affirm “I am looking at a computer screen”. There are many, an infinite number of ways the colour and sense experiences you perceive form the computer screen could have come to be, however we use forms of heuristics, including abduction to prioritise the most likely explanations from the least likely explanations.

It could be today when you woke up that an evil scientist crept into your bedroom during the night, sedated you, and transferred your brain to a matrix. It is epistemologically possible, yet our inferences render such an explanation of the facts highly unlikely. The criteria of abductive reasoning, which I have defended so far, are the main principles involved. The same applies to well-established scientifric theories, when we have a theory that is backed by increasing amounts of evidence, both its explanatory power, and the level of ad hoc reasoning required to deny the theory renders the negation highly implausible.

1. Explanatory Power
Pro drops the fact that God provides exactly zero explanatory power, for inherent reasons, which was my major point here. Moreover pro also drops my points that essentially we have found within the universe obeys (descriptive) natural laws, if it obeys descriptive natural laws, then they most certainly also obey prescriptive natural laws. Pro goes on a large tangent here attacking the natural laws in practice instead of attacking them in principle, but this is completely irrelevant to the argument I was making here. The claim of metaphysical naturalism isn’t “The universe perfectly obeys our description of the natural laws today”, so attacks on our laws today makes no progress against metaphysical naturalism. The claim of naturalism is that in principle, the universe obeys natural laws descriptively – and evidencing that the universe where we have measured it evidently does obey natural laws is sufficient to demonstrate its enormous explanatory power.

Theism, on the other hand, inherently entails none of the observations we have.

2. Law of Parsimony
Pro completely ignores that Newton’s laws are not an explanation, they are only a description of behaviour. Newton says nothing about the nature of gravity, thus it does not qualify as an explanation of gravity, thus Pro is going completely off-topic by comparing relativity to Newton’s Laws of gravitation.

Pro points out exceptions to the law with his log analogy, and I completely agree, however that only discredits the law if it was posited as an absolute, given that it is not deductive (nor is it intended to be), however I provided the epistemological justification for it to be the case. All things equal, the simplest explanation is preferable, thus even considering Pro’s log analogy, sure we do need an external cause, yet the simplest sufficient external causes are still going to be preferable to more complex ones.

In the case of naturalism however, we do not have this problem, since the universe can be self-contained within natural laws as-is. Numerous speculative models of the universe which are contained within a mathematical framework exist e.g. Carrol-Chen, Linde, etc.[3,4] which can explain our dataset. While none are accepted as correct, it flat out falsifies that naturalism is not sufficientin principle to explain the universe as we have it. Con would have to claim that naturalism is inherent insufficient to explain the universe in order for his line of reasoning to hold weight.

4. Predictive Power
I honestly do not see what pro’s long tangent regarding big bang cosmology etc. has to do with predictive power of naturalism. Again I never argued that our existing descriptive natural laws are predictive, I was arguing the very principle of the universe obeying natural laws is predictive – hence my arguments from an impartial universe.

I contrasted theism to naturalism here, that future observations will be found to obey natural laws (and this has successively been the case as we go increasingly fundamental, for example from Newtonion Motion Laws to Quantum Theory, and Newtonion gravitational laws to General Relativity. Moreover, a universe that essentially doesn’t care about life, etc, which I argued was apparent from the sheer amount of empty space, an argument that Pro has dropped. Con completely loses the road here. Moreover Con argues natural laws “break down” yet only makes an appeal to authority here, and also doesn’t give the context of this statement of Hawking and what he means by “breaking down”. What we have found is that natural laws rather become increasingly simple and fundamental, with the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces unifying at the most extreme conditions. Hardly a case of “breaking down”.

Pro argues for an external cause, but provides essentially no justification for this, moreover he begs the question of the coherence of a “cause” external to the universe, since our notions of causality rest on preconceived notions of time, entropy, and directionality. Given a four-dimensional block universe (an argument unchallenged by Pro this debate), a “caused” universe is completely unnecessary, since it is more parsimonious for the universe to just exist “as-is” with no further explanation required. Pro’s arguments regarding “the early universe” seem to presuppose that the universe literally had some sort of beginning to its existence, however this only makes sense when presupposing presentism. With a block universe (affirmed by GR), this is entirely nonsense, since the universe was never literally “born” in any sense any more than a ruler was born with its first inch.[5]

3. Background Knowledge
“The choice is between Natural Laws alone and Natural Laws plus God
Given we have no background knowledge of “natural laws plus God”, yet we do have plenty of background knowledge of “natural laws alone”, clearly the former, not the latter, is within background knowledge. The former we know from our study of behaviour that exclusively obeys natural laws, at no point do satellites suddenly “fail to continue orbiting” and drop like a stone, etc. They obey the precise descriptive laws we have, hence we can cleanly argue that this motion of a satellite moving via. natural laws alone. The latter however is beyond our experience set. Why choose an explanation which we do not need, and which we do not know is even metaphysically possible?

Pro again goes completely off-track when addressing this abductive point. He drops my mathematical justification for this point. Where theism involves an uncertainty that metaphysical naturalism doesn’t require.

4.1 Absolute truths
Con attempts some sort of epistemological argument but it’s a long way from being remotely cogent. Furthermore, his mathematical argument is logically invalid, since P1 is not synonymous with “all things abstract and immaterial are universally true”, necessary for C1 to follow from P2 via. BARBARA. Thus even if P1 and P2 were both true, C1 doesn’t follow. Furthermore he attempts to give “truth” some form of ontology and his P1 simply begs the question of epistemological scepticism, objective epistemologies are not the only possibility.[1,2]

4.2 Warped space-time
Con drops this argument.

5. Employment of ad hoc assumptions
5.1 Argument from atemporal minds
Pro drops my point that all of Pro’s rebuttals here only help affirm the contention, that theism must employ ad hoc assumptions in order to remain coherent. He has done nothing but that in his defence to 5.1. Moreover assumptions are not limited to existing entities, but additional attributes, etc. Furthermore, all of our evidence suggests that time is part of the four-dimensional framework of our universe, thus he would need to go against General Relativity to make this claim.

Pro claims it doesn’t invoke any more assumptions than naturalism, by straw manning metaphysical naturalism, again. Now we have “God plus new plane plus natural laws”, sounds nice and ad hoc to me!

5.2 Incoherence of a caused universe
Pro again strawmans my position by attacking materialism (wtf). Pro completely ignores my entire argument that even positing a “beginning” of the universe is incoherent due to the issue of ontology of time. He continually insists that the universe had a beginning at the “planck time”, but this ignores my larger point of what the universe is. Again, it’s like saying a ruler has a “beginning of its existence” at its first inch. Yes, the universe may well have a first-moment in time, but that is not to say the universe began to exist here, since on four-dimensionalism the past, present and future all exist at once are are all equally real.[5]




The Burden

Pro defines Strong Atheism as: The belief that there is no god(s)

Belief is to accept a statement as true. So a Strong Atheism accepts "there are no god(s)" as true. For String Atheism to be a reasonable philosophical view, then the position will be supported by sound arguments. Even if these arguments do not conclude in a 100% certainty the will conclude in "God does not exist".

The statement, "God most likely does not exist" is not the same semantically or logically equivalent to the definition pro gave.

And I feel is moving the goal post, because most discussion on defining strong atheism state it is the affirmative claim "God does not exist".

Inference to Best Explanation

The roots of Science are in the Methodological Naturalism forwarded by Theist. Newton, Kepler, Bishops and Popes all spoke of explaining the world around us in natural terms. To what purpose you may ask? To discern the Creator's mind. It is a false dichotomy to think that Theism is separate from naturalism. Honestly I can not see how anything can be Theist with out naturalism. More often is a joining of studying nature and the idea of a creator.[1]

In the mid 1800's this methodology began to be elevated to a philosophical position. The procedures of one investigative tool were assumed to some how describe the whole of reality.

Inference to .. what? Best Explanation. And Pro has not shown that Metaphysical Naturalism more likely explains the events usually attributed to God. As I described Pro breaks the first rule of having a logical conversation. the law of identity[2]. As I stated the "Laws of Nature" break when applied to the event, the temporal moment at the beginning of the Big Bang. What Pro attempts to say is that these Laws are the prescriptive laws that we have not fully described yet. Well even if I am inclined to accept that there are eternal never changing principles of how nature interacts, Pro has not demonstrated these to explain the event in question. So A1 (Laws of Nature Pro knows) and A2 (the actual Laws the govern the interactions of energy and matter) do not have the same identity and therefore Pro can not claim any explanatory value in the event of the Big Bang.

Abductive Reasoning

I am all for IBE. I have even listed how it applies to the Scientific Method by Popper and Pierce. It is important to see that an abductive technique is NOT a Bayesian testing method. Ad Hoc means the addition of assumptions to keep an hypothesis from failing. But as I pointed out, the Metaphysical Naturalist is making great assumptions. Hasty generalizations and claims unfounded empirically or logically.

The MN relies on bare assertions to keep from failing.

Explanatory Power

Pro confuses explanatory power with predictive capability. The descriptive laws do not describe sufficiently the prescriptive laws to lessen or negate the possibility of God. Because the prescriptive laws of nature could be contingent on God, and this possibility is ignored by the MNist because of an adherence to a unfounded presupposition.

This is a false dichotomy. No one logically has to decide whether to accept God or to accept natural laws governing material interactions. Theist accept nature, and consider it to be a second book God has written.

Essentially Without having a sufficient description of the prescriptive laws, Pro can not argue their explanatory power as being against God, least of all for his position.


In Pro's 3rd reference we find: To make any progress we need to have some understanding of what it means for an initial condition to be “natural.” If an unknown principle of physics demands specific initial conditions (but not final ones), there is no problem to be solved; it may simply be that the universe began in a low-entropy initial state and has been evolving normally ever since. This might be the case, for example, if the universe were created “from nothing,” such that the initial state was a priori different from the final state, or if Penrose’s explicitly time-asymmetric Weyl Curvature Hypothesis were true. There is, of course, no way to rule out this possibility...

It goes on to state: We are left with the following conundrum: we would like to explain our currently observed universe as arising from natural initial conditions, but natural means high-entropy, and high-entropy implies equilibrium configurations with occasional fluctuations, but not ones sufficient to explain our observed universe. However, there is one loophole in this reasoning, namely the assumption that there is such a thing as a state of maximal entropy.

Honestly a great read. And what we see is a list of assumptions and ifs. Not to mention the math doesn't work out. They chose a mass parameter of 10^13 GeV, and the latest research finding the higgs-boson says it is 126 GeV. That's off by 9,999,999,999,874 GeV.[3]

Pro's 4th reference is another great read. It describes an Eternal inflationary model, like baby universe popping into exsistence like bubbles. On page 10 it notes: "But so far, unfortunately, this is only wishful thinking. As I will discuss in the next section, we do not even know how to define probabilities in eternally inflating multiverses." And again the math does not work out. While reading page 5 I picked up that Lambda was too large, not till 10 does the author admit this is a big problem.

But both Authors were quite honest in their approaches and assumptions. Thank you Envisage.

Predictive Power

The Natural laws break down in that as Hawking admitted there could have been more matter and energy in the Universe at the initial state of the Big Bang. Clearly a violation of the Law of Conservation. Not just are the description of the Laws of Nature incomplete, but they at times can be completely inaccurate.

I'm not arguing that Natural Laws do not exist. I'm not arguing that understanding and describing them don't have predictive power. This Methodological Naturalism has actually been grown by Theist thinkers.

The leap in inference that this negates or or makes God unlikely has not been logically supported. Not soundly.

Background Knowledge

Pro has BoP to demonstrate that most likely God does not Exist. I do not have to argue for a metaphysical possibility of God.

I did not drop the Mathematical point Pro offers. I investigate it. the values he perpetuates are arbitrary. As his own references allude to when discussing abduction and Bayesian theory. As I said the probabilities and manner he posited, does not take into account God+natural laws. Which would mean any data supporting Natural would be in the domain of God+Natural as well, Are there points of Data that currently do not fit into Natural Law space but do fit into God? YES. Spiritual experiences and other data, but at the moment I only discussed the beginning of the Universe. Which can not even be plotted in either space because there is no really good explanation on any side. not to mention that I have been discussing a moment between t-0 and t+1 plank second but I could talk about any moments between t-0 and t+379,000 years of the universe.

Naturalism was a Methodology of an investigation, it lacks all coherency to be the basis for a philosophical view, especially one that posits the universal non-existence of things never scrutinized by the method itself before. That in itself is circular reasoning around a bare assertion.

Absolute Truths

The Mathematical argument is a sound syllogism. It's intent is to show that facts about reality and truths about this universe and absolute principles of interactions, more than likely will not be relatable to human experience. Such facts and absolute truths about reality are beyond human experience.

Warped Space-Time

I did not drop this argument. I ask Pro to elaborate; If everything is energy, matter or laws of physics, then how is space-time "physical". Self refuting or special pleading I am not sure, but if space-time can be physical and exist than why can't other non-energy, non-matter, entities exist? But Pro drops this point.

Atemoral Mind

What Pro calls ad hoc is a not. In the Pantheism contention I only offer that a pattern that explains the emergence of mind, is also present on a different scale. I was assuming no new attribute to the way energy and matter interact.

Pro still has not backed up why God has to be atemporal. I suppose this is based on that he is asserting only this world and 4 dimensions exist. Which is counter to many scientific postulations and simply insufficient to account for this world itself.

Cause of universe.

Pro uses Eternalism to refute my post. Does he not know that in the same chapter of Confession Augustine posits "we should say present past, present present, present future". Again the argument over a beginning to the universe does not conclude that God does not exist. Probably because these arguments come from time honored smart Theist.

Metaphysical Naturalism is insufficient to answer the cause of this event. And while the existence of the ruler is not contingent on the first inch, to explain the existence of the ruler the explanation must account for the first inch.


Strong Atheism is a philosophical position, that if supported by Metaphysical Naturalism, relies on the adherence to bare assertions that are not logically or empirically supported. It is a belief based on presuppositional assertions, restricted limited human experience, and invalid or unsound logic.

Strong Atheism is an unsound philosophical position.




Debate Round No. 4
45 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Romanii 3 years ago
abduction sucks
Posted by Envisage 3 years ago
I thought he didn't vote?
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
By the way we're the hell is John Lubba's RFD?
Posted by Wylted 3 years ago
Your a strong atheist? How much can you bench press bro?
Posted by Envisage 3 years ago
Meh - I tend to stray form defining myself anymore. I couldn't really care less about my label. I gave the definition "The belief that there is no god(s) " - and that is my position with a god as defined in the debate ("An intelligent being that is an omnipotent, omniscient cause of the universe").
Posted by Envisage 3 years ago
Meh - I tend to stray form defining myself anymore. I couldn't really care less about my label. I gave the definition "The belief that there is no god(s) " - and that is my position with a god as defined in the debate ("An intelligent being that is an omnipotent, omniscient cause of the universe").
Posted by tejretics 3 years ago
"For a very unusual & rare change, I am actually going to forward the exact reason as to why I am a strong atheist" -- you're a strong atheist? wth ....
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
I will still give an RFD some time in the future, when time permits me to read this.
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
Damn I wanted to read and vote on this.
Posted by Chaosism 3 years ago
Disappointing that no one voted? If so, I am, too.

I'm in awe of both of you, and shall be looking at your arguments for some time...
No votes have been placed for this debate.