Instigator / Con
Points: 2

The Rationality of Faith

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 2 votes the winner is ...
bsh1
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Religion
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Winner selection
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Required rating
1505
Contender / Pro
Points: 0
Description
--Overview--
This debate will last 4 rounds, with 3 days for each debater to post for each round. There will be 10,000 characters available to each debater for each round. Voting will last for 1 month. You must have an ELO of 1,505 to accept, and I would prefer someone who has completed at least one debate on the site as an opponent. I am taking the Con position.
--Topic--
The most rational response to the question of god's existence is to have faith.
--Definitions--
Rational - in accordance with reason and logic
God - an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being who is the source of all creation
Faith - belief in God
--Rules--
1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate as posted links (not embedded)
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
7. For all undefined resolutional terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
8. The BOP is evenly shared
9. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
10. Violation or rejection of any of these rules or of any of the description's set-up (including definitions), merits a loss
--Structure--
R1. Pro's Case; Con's Case
R2. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R3. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R4. Pro generic Rebuttal and Summary; Con generic Rebuttal and Summary
Round 1
Published:
Thanks to Virt for the debate. I will now present my case.

I. Overview

When confronted with any question of belief, there are, fundamentally, three possible reactions: belief, disbelief, or suspension of belief. Take, for example, the question of whether alien life exists in the universe. When posed this question, I can either believe that aliens exist, disbelieve that aliens exist, or take no position. In this debate, I take the position that suspension of belief is the most rational position, but even if one were to take a position, it would be better to disbelieve than to believe.

II. To Pass Over in Silence

Wittgenstein tells us that in order to talk about something in any meaningful sense, we must have some point of reference with which to understand that thing. His argument proceeds in this manner: [1]

  1. The world is all that is the case.
  2. What is the case—a fact—is the existence of states of affairs
  3. A logical picture of facts is a thought.
  4. A thought is a proposition with sense.
  5. A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions. (An elementary proposition is a truth function of itself.)
  6. The general form of a truth-function is [p,ξ, N (ξ)]
  7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.
The notion of thought as picture is particularly important here. Our thoughts model, mentally, the reality we encounter isomorphically. In order to have rational communication rooted in propositions with sense (thoughts), those propositions must have some reference. Imagine an alien for a moment. Perhaps you see a green biped with an ovular head and bulbous eyes. This though has reference: we have been exposed to things which are green, which are bipedal, which have heads, which have eyes, which are ovular, which have odd proportions. The alien we have imagined is a composite of various references. Now try to imagine an alien without reference, without calling upon anything to which you have been previously exposed. The very task is an impossibility, because we cannot imagine the un-referenceable. It is like trying to paint a picture of the unknown; it cannot be done precisely because it is unknown

This has a key impact for how we talk about god. God, just by the very breadth of what such a being is alleged to be, is unreferenceable. We talk about god in Christian settings, for example, as a male, as made of three things, as a father; these traits are all references. But these references cannot possibly accurately reflect a being of such uniqueness and expansiveness. We cannot think of god itself, and so we cannot talk rationally about god and its existence or nonexistence. To talk about god is an exercise in nonsense.

III. The Four O's

God is defined, for the purposes of this debate as an "omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being who is the source of all creation." These terms loosely translate as "all-knowing, all-present, almighty, and all-loving." According to Merriam-Webster (1-3) and Oxford (4): [2, 3]

  1. Omniscient means "possessed of universal or complete knowledge"
  2. Omnipresent means "present in all places at all times"
  3. Omnipotent means "almighty: having absolute power over all"
  4. Omnibenevolent means "possessing perfect or unlimited goodness."
If I can show that belief in even one (since god must have all) of these divine traits is not reasonable, I have negated the resolution.

A. God Cannot be Omniscient

Suppose for a moment that I am in the hospital, and I know that I am. What I know is not simply that bsh1 is in the hospital, but that I, myself, am in the hospital. This is an important distinction, because if I am in the hospital for amnesia or some mental defect, it is possible that I might know that "bsh1 is in the hospital" without knowing that "I am in the hospital" (because I might not know that bsh1 is me). My doctor might know that I know that I am in the hospital, but that is not quite the same realization either. My doctor's knowledge is knowledge of my knowledge, and not my knowledge itself.

What I know when I know that I am in the hospital is a first-person fact. It is a fact that comes from my own, individual apprehension of reality that can only be known by me when I apprehend it. For god to be omniscient, he must possess all knowledge, but cannot possess my first-person knowledge without being identical to me, since it is only through my own apprehension of reality that I possess such knowledge.

In other words, my knowledge of reality is distinct from (1) reality itself and (2) from other people's knowledge of my knowledge. My perceptions (what I know about reality) is a kind of knowledge that only I can have. For god to have access to this knowledge, god and I must be one in the same. I am not god. Therefore, god cannot have this knowledge and is not omniscient.

B. God Cannot be Omnipresent

Omnipresence means that god is universally temporally present; i.e. that he is present at all places at all times. This means that god possess complete knowledge while also being temporally universal. This is paradoxical. Consider for a moment, each of the following three sentences: 

Yesterday, it was true that I would write this argument.
Today, it is true that I am writing this argument.
Tomorrow, it will be true that I have written this argument.

Each of these sentences was true at a certain point in time; outside of that specific point (i.e. yesterday, today, tomorrow, respectively), these sentences are each false. To possess complete knowledge, god would need to know all of these truths at once--but each of these truths is contradictory. That "I will write this argument" cannot be true at the same time that it is true that "I am writing this argument." 

Nevertheless, to a god, who exists in all times at once, all of these truths are true simultaneously. In other words, to a god who exists across time, it must be true to him that "I will write this argument" and that "I am writing this argument," and these truths must be true to him at once (i.e. at the same time). This is quite literally impossible. Either god does not know all three of these truths at once or he is not temporally universal; either god is not omniscient or he is not omnipresent.

C. God Cannot be Omnipotent

I will make two arguments on this point. First, to be almighty is to be able to do anything. If god can do anything, he ought to be able to create a stone so heavy that even he cannot lift it. However, this creates a paradox: if god cannot lift the stone, he is not almighty; if god cannot make the stone, he is not almighty. From this, it becomes clear the god cannot be omnipotent, since omnipotence is logically impossible given the paradox.
Second, suppose that the sentence "Aristotle gave his lecture for the first time yesterday" (y-lecture) is a true statement. Can god, as an omnipotent being, make the statement false. Could he instead make Aristotle give his lecture for the first time tomorrow (t-lecture)? It seems like an omnipotent being ought to be able to erase past events and change the timeline, but in erasing Aristotle's y-lecture, has God actually invalidated the truth of the original statement? 

Even if I, unaware of the event-erasing activity of god, believed that the t-lecture was Aristotle's first time giving the lecture, god would still know that the y-lecture was originally the first time Aristotle gave the lecture, prior to god having altered the timeline. In a broad sense, then, the original statement remains true: Aristotle gave his lecture for the first time yesterday (before god altered the timeline). The italicized clause has not been rendered false, and it seems that god is unable to render it false (i.e. it is not omnipotent).

D. God Cannot be Omnibenevolent

When we speak of omnibenevolence, or just benevolence itself, we speak in moral terms, so we are not referring to "goodness" in any teleological sense. That is, there is a difference between the kind of good that comes from being good for/at something (e.g. this hammer is good for/at pounding nails) and the kind of goodness that comes from moral perfection. To confuse these two kinds of goods would be to commit an is/ought fallacy. Therefore, when we say that "god is omnibenevolent," what we are truly saying is that "god is perfectly moral."

To be moral beings, we must exercise moral choice; that is, we must be able to appreciate morality, reason morally, and make choices of our own. A rock is not moral because it can do any of these things. God then, to be a perfectly moral being, must, unlike a rock, possess each of these three abilities, and must also never err in its moral choices. I wish then to emphasize that, to be ominbenevolent, god must have a will. God must make moral choices.

God cannot be omnibenevolent (which entails having a will) and be omniscient simultaneously. "God is all-knowing so it knows what all of its actions are, were, and will be. Its knowledge is infallible, so it seems, any omniscient being must be trapped in an existence where all choices are already made, so are predetermined...God itself cannot exercise any free will. An omniscient God is, therefore, an automaton, something that doesn't make choices. It exists in a state where all its own actions are pre-seen and preordained. If it wanted to choose otherwise to what it knows about the future, it can only do so if its omniscient knowledge about the future is actually wrong. In other words, to exercise free will, an omniscient being has to cease to be omniscient." [4] Therefore, god cannot be both omniscient and omnibenevolent.

IV. Sources

Published:
I want to begin by thanking bsh1 for instigating this debate. It is an immense pleasure to debate you once again. I agree with the rules, terms, and definitions set forth in the debate description. With that, let’s begin.
 
I. Observations
 
The resolution of the debate is “The most rational response to the question of God's existence is to have faith.” In order to win this debate, I don’t have to completely prove the existence of God, but rather prove that faith in God is the most rational response. However, I will hopefully prove the existence of God in the process!
 
II. Pascal’s Wager
 
Imagine the following scenario: It is absolutely impossible to know 100% whether or not God exists. In this case, faith in God is certainly the most rational response. Should you believe in God and He does not exist, then you lose absolutely nothing; however, if you don’t believe in God and He does exist, then you have everything to lose.
 
III. The Cosmological Argument
 
P1: If the universe began to exist, then the universe has a cause
P2: The universe began to exist
C1: Therefore, the universe has a cause
 
Before I dive in, I would like to offer a few important definitions in this argument[1]:
 
  • Universe: all existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos.
  • Began: Past tense of begin; come into being or have its starting point at a certain time or place.
  • Exist: have objective reality or being
  • Cause: a person or thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon, or condition.
This argument is fairly straight forward. I personally like this formulation of the cosmological the best. P1 is fairly modest. It says that if the universe began to exist, then the universe must have had a cause. I doubt my opponent, or anyone for that matter, would object to P1. Indeed, to deny P1 is worse than magic. When a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, the rabbit just doesn’t appear out of complete nothingness. The same is true for the universe. If you believe there was no transcendent pre-existing cause of the universe, then you must believe that the entire complex universe just appeared by chance out of nowhere! This is blatantly absurd.
 
Premise 2 is also sound. In the past, scientists believed that the universe always existed and that the universe was “static.” We now know that this is not true and that the universe had a beginning. Even more amazing is that time itself had a beginning! In his lecture, Stephen Hawking notes the following [2]:
 
“All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning, about 15 billion years ago. This is probably the most remarkable discovery of modern cosmology…

…The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago. The beginning of real time would have been a singularity, at which the laws of physics would have broken down. Nevertheless, the way the universe began would have been determined by the laws of physics, if the universe satisfied the no boundary condition. 
In conclusion, the universe must have a cause of its existence. What then is the cause of its existence? There are several reasons to believe that God is the cause. First, an infinite regress of physical causes (such as the bang-crunch-bang cycle hypothesis) is logically impossible (as it essentially bang-crunch all the way back); second, the cause must exist independently of space and time; third, the cause must pre-exist; fourth, the cause must be powerful enough to create the universe; and finally the cause must be nonphysical. This is an entity we call God.
 
IV. Argument from Design
 
P1: The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
P2: It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
C1: Therefore, it is due to design.
 
Once again, we need to define a few terms in this argument:
 
  • Necessity: a logically necessary being is a being whose non-existence is a logical impossibility, and which therefore exists either timeless or eternally in all possible worlds.
  • Chance: the occurrence and development of events in the absence of any obvious design.
  • Design: purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.
Unless Con is able to show a fourth possibility in P1, we are left with these 3 options. P2 is thus the premise that I will defend here. There are many reasons to believe P2 is true.
 
A. The Universe

In order for life to come into existence, we first need to have a universe that is capable of supporting life. As it turns out, there are dozens of different factors that go into play that if it is changed by even a hair, then life could not exist. Let’s take one example: The neutron. PBS writer Anil Anathaswamy notes[3]:
 
“Take, for instance, the neutron. It is 1.00137841870 times heavier than the proton, which is what allows it to decay into a proton, electron and neutrino—a process that determined the relative abundances of hydrogen and helium after the big bang and gave us a universe dominated by hydrogen. If the neutron-to-proton mass ratio were even slightly different, we would be living in a very different universe: one, perhaps, with far too much helium, in which stars would have burned out too quickly for life to evolve, or one in which protons decayed into neutrons rather than the other way around, leaving the universe without atoms. So, in fact, we wouldn’t be living here at all—we wouldn’t exist.”
This is just one of many examples of things that need to be just right for life to exist.
 
B. Life Itself
 
Now that we have a universe, we have to have just the right ingredients for life to form. First, the planet needs to be in the “Goldilocks” zone, where it is close enough to the parent, start to hold liquid water. Next, life has to spontaneously generate from non-living organic matter. But even a single-cell organism is quite complex. Indeed, the mitochondria have its own DNA separate from the DNA in the cell.[4]From there, it only gets worse. The haploid human genome contains approximately 3 billion base pairs of DNA packaged into 23 chromosomes.[5]
 
Let’s consider one final example: The mimic octopus changes its color to disguise itself. Even more amazing is that it changes its appearance to look like the lionfish, jellyfish, sea snake, shrimp, crabs, and other animals.[6]The amount of complexity that had to be involved in each step of the way shows that there had to be divine intervention. Since evolution and natural selection are a blind process, the mutations and genetic information that is required to engineer such complexity are amazing. Alison Abbott in Nature notes the following[7]:
 
Surprisingly, the octopus genome turned out to be almost as large as a human’s and to contain a greater number of protein-coding genes — some 33,000, compared with fewer than 25,000 in Homo sapiens.
 
This excess results mostly from the expansion of a few specific gene families, Ragsdale says. One of the most remarkable gene groups is the protocadherins, which regulate the development of neurons and the short-range interactions between them. The octopus has 168 of these genes — more than twice as many as mammals. This resonates with the creature’s unusually large brain and the organ’s even-stranger anatomy. Of the octopus's half a billion neurons — six times the number in a mouse — two-thirds spill out from its head through its arms, without the involvement of long-range fibres such as those in vertebrate spinal cords. The independent computing power of the arms, which can execute cognitive tasks even when dismembered, have made octopuses an object of study for neurobiologists such as Hochner and for roboticists who are collaborating on the development of soft, flexible robots.

 
The analysis also turned up hundreds of other genes that are specific to the octopus and highly expressed in particular tissues. The suckers, for example, express a curious set of genes that are similar to those that encode receptors for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The genes seem to enable the octopus’s remarkable ability to taste with its suckers.
In summary, the amazing complexity of the universe and life simply cannot be explained by mere naturalistic explanations.
 
V. Conclusion
 
I believe I have given 3 solid reasons to believe that faith is the most rational response to God. First, even if there was no way of knowing that God exists, we ought to prefer the option that has the most reward and least risk – and that is the belief in God. Second, the universe had to have a beginning. We are warranted to conclude that an all-powerful God was the primary mover of the universe. Lastly, the complexity and fine-tuning of life and the universe show that God is a rational explanation. In order for philosophical naturalism and atheism to be true, we need to somehow create the perfect universe with the perfect conditions for life. Next, we need to have a planet with just the right amount of ingredients for complex life to evolve. Because these two events seem so improbable, a rational explanation for all of this is God.

VI. Sources

[1] All definitions are from Google dictionary
[2] Stephen Hawking, "The Beginning of Time" (speech transcript). http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html
[3] Anil Anathaswamy, "Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Life?," Nova, last modified March 7, 2012, accessed June 20, 2019, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/is-the-universe-fine-tuned-for-life/.
[4] Genetic Science Learning Center. "The Evolution of the Cell." Learn.Genetics. September 2, 2010. Accessed June 19, 2019.https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/cells/organelles/.
[5] Annunziato, A. (2008) DNA Packaging: Nucleosomes and Chromatin.Nature Education 1(1):26 https://www.nature.com/scitable/nated/article?action=showContentInPopup&contentPK=310
[6] National Geographic, "Mimic Octopus Facts," National Geographic,https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/m/mimic-octopus/.
[7] Alison Abbott, "Octopus genome holds clues to uncanny intelligence," Nature, August 12, 2015. https://www.nature.com/news/octopus-genome-holds-clues-to-uncanny-intelligence-1.18177.



Round 2
Published:
Thanks again to Virt. I will now refute his case.

I. Observation

Pro is correct that the resolution is not "God Exists." Nevertheless, it he cannot show strong evidence for god's existence, it is unlikely he will be able to meet his burden. Moreover, it is Pro's job to show that possessing faith in an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omnipresent god is the most rational response, and not merely that it is one of several rational responses.

II. Pascal's Wager

Pro leaves unsaid what exactly it is that we have to fear from not having faith. Why is it that not believing could cause us to lose everything? Pascal argued that a belief in god would enable us to live our lives in accordance with god's law, thereby avoiding god's wrath upon our final judgement. We stand to lose everything, according to Pascal's Wager, because if we do not believe, god will punish us for our arrogance and sin. Now that this is cleared up, I have three responses to Pro's argument.

First, if we believe in god only to save ourselves from punishment, our faith is fundamentally selfish. God would likely find that kind of self-centered outlook sinful, and would punish us anyway. Second, if we believe in a god, but not the right/real one, we may be punished despite our having faith. Third, in response to the possibility of god, we could still choose to disbelieve while attempting to minimize our exposure to punishment by leading relatively moral and blameless lives. It does not follow that belief is necessary to avoid god's wrath, unless Pro is arguing for a specific religious outlook which requires belief for salvation. This alternative seems facially equally rational to adopting belief.

III. The Cosmological Argument

Before I begin, let me point out that there is a hidden premise in Pro's argument which he does not explicitly state. That hidden premise is that "everything that begins to exist has a cause." It is from this hidden premise that Pro infers as he does in his P1 that because the universe began to exist, it has a cause. Pro must defend this hidden premise or his P1 falls apart. With that said, I have four responses to Pro's argument.

First, even if Pro can establish that there is a being/entity who is the cause of existence, Pro cannot establish through the cosmological argument that this being/entity is god as this debate as defined it. God is not only the creator of the universe, but is also omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipresent. At best, the cosmological argument can establish that god is the creator and that god is omnipotent, but it cannot establish the other three traits which Pro must establish to meet his burden.

Second, if anything exists which is uncaused, it is not the case that "everything that begins to exist has a cause." Since syllogisms rely on the truth of their premises to draw their conclusions, if I can find even one example of some uncaused event, I can negate the entire logical chain. With quantum events, causal structures are indefinite, meaning that there is no distinct cause and effect. [1] "[Apologist William Lane] Craig responds that...quantum events are not completely devoid of causal conditions. Even if one grants that the causal conditions are not jointly sufficient to determine the event, at least some necessary conditions are involved in the quantum event...Morriston is rightly puzzled by this reply, for, he asks, what: 'makes a cause out of a bunch of merely necessary conditions. Apparently not that they are jointly sufficient to produce the effect.'" [2] Radioactive decay is another example of an uncaused event. Indeed, "spontaneous disintegration of radioactive nuclei is stochastic and might be uncaused." [11] 

Third, evident in Pro's argumentation is the claim that infinite regress is impossible. If infinite regress is possible, there is no more reason to prefer Pro's syllogism to the one below (which suggests that there is indeed no ultimate cause that can be called "god").

P1. Everything that exists has a cause.
P2. The Universe exists.
C1. Therefore, the Universe has a cause.
P3. The cause of the Universe exists (or existed)
C2. Therefore, the cause of the Universe has a cause (from P1 and P3)

Indeed, it is possible that time is infinite, and thus, that the past is infinite. "Stephen Hawking, James Hartle, and other cosmologists, say the difficulty of knowing whether the past and future are infinite turns on our ignorance of whether the universe's positive energy is exactly canceled out by its negative energy (so the kinetic energy of expansion is canceled by the mutual gravitational attraction), and whether the universe's positive charge is exactly canceled out by negative charge...Stephen Hawking...said it is an open question whether there was time before the big bang, but he slightly favored a 'yes' answer." [3] From a more intuitive perspective, it makes no sense to talking about something beginning to exist unless there was some time before in which it began, meaning that an infinite past is necessitated if one is to claim that the alleged first even "began." Further, Pro's argumentation for why infinite regresses/infinite past are impossible is scant; if he intends to make these argument, he must present more substantial analysis to support his claims.

Fourth, Pro says that something coming out of nothing is like "magic." Consider the following hypothetical: "Suppose we came upon a log cabin in the forest, and were told that the cabin was very special: it popped into existence out of nothing without an efficient cause. I imagine most of us would find that implausible. But suppose instead that we were told that it was special for another reason: a lumberjack built it without building materials. I imagine most of us would find the second claim at least as implausible as the first claim." [10] If it is metaphysically possible that nothing could become something (which Pro must agree with, lest he deny that God could create the universe), then it does not seem like my position is any more "magical" than Pro's.

IV. Fine-Tuning Argument

I would call on Pro to clearly articulate what he means by "fine-tuning," as there are some nuanced differences between uses of the term. I will take the term to mean "suitability for life." In the interim, I have seven responses to Pro's argument.

First, Pro's argument here is that god somehow exists because life exists. God, in Pro's argument, is the explanation for life's existence, yet life's existence is the explanation for god. This commits a circular fallacy of reasoning.

Second, Pro lists various criteria which he believes are necessary for life. Yet, it is unclear that any of these criteria are actually necessary. Since we do not yet know all the forms life could take or even the very processes by which abiogenesis occurs, we cannot reasonably assert the necessity of any criteria for the formation of life. [4] Take, for instance, Pro's reference to the Goldilocks Zone. The parameters that define this zone are based in thinking rooted around the kind of life found here on Earth (it is "terracentric" or "carbon chauvinist" [7]); however, more exotic forms of life, like "cryolife" could be found outside of this zone, farther from the system's star. [5] Similarly, silicon-based life would require such immense heat to generate, that in may be found closer to systems' stars than the Goldilocks Zone allows. [6] We need only look to extremofiles to see how life could emerge in conditions we might typically think of as adverse. [9]

Third, Pro is essentially making his own wonderment at the beauty and complexity of life evidence of god's existence. Awe is, ultimately, not evidence. This is another "god of the gaps" kind of argument, where Pro is so mesmerized by the diversity of life that he assumes (without any basis beyond his own incredulity) that a god must exist. This is not a rational response.

Fourth, given an infinite number of universes, which physicists tell us there are, it is inevitable that one or more would accommodate life. [6] And, different kinds of universes are not life-prohibiting simply because they are different. Instead, it seems more logical to think that different universes would give rise to different kinds of life in response to the different kinds of conditions present.

Fifth, there does not seem to be a reason why god must be the fine-tuner. Perhaps there is some super-powerful, non-god entity in existence, like a Q from Star Trek, who can shape our world. So, even if there is a fine-tuner, it does not follow that this fine-tuner is god, specifically.

Sixth, "[o]ur judgements about what counts as a sign of intelligent design must be based on empirical information about what designers often do and what they rarely do. As of now, these judgements are based on our knowledge of human intelligence. The more our hypotheses of intelligent designers depart from the human case, the more in the dark we are as to what the ground rules are for inferring intelligent design." [8] In other words, Pro's arguments are irrationally anthropocentric.

Seventh, even if Pro wins that fine-tuning exists and implies a god-designer, he cannot show, on the basis of this argument alone, that such a god-designer meets all of the 4 O's listed in the definition of god. Without demonstrating that god meets all those 4 O's, Pro cannot meet his burden in this debate.

V. Sources


Thank you! Please vote Con!
Published:
Thank you, bsh1! I will be rebutting my opponent's arguments in this round and will be defending my arguments in the next round. In the next round, I will also hopefully be able to respond to the arguments I am unable to respond to here due to the lack of time on my part. With that said, let's dive right in.

I. Overview

My opponent and I are in agreement with this. 

II. To pass over in silence

Honestly, I read this argument many times and don't quite grasp what Con is arguing here. Please forgive me and I will hopefully be able to respond to this argument in the next round. I don't quite understand what Con is saying with the reference point. 

III. The 4 O's

A. God cannot be omniscient

First, since God is omnipotent, I don't see any question as to why God cannot be knowledgable and powerful enough to know and understand your first-person experiences. Indeed, omniscience is [1]:

"When we say that God is omniscient it means that He has perfect knowledge of all things. He does not have to learn anything and He has not forgotten anything. God does not have to reason things out, find out things, or learn them gradually. He knows everything that has happened and everything that will happen. God also knows every potential thing that might happen. God even knows those things that humankind has yet to discover. This knowledge is absolute and unacquired. The omniscience of God means that He has perfect knowledge, perfect understanding, and perfect wisdom as to how to apply the knowledge."
Since God has "perfect knowledge" and "perfect understanding" and "perfect wisdom," He certainly has the perfect understanding of your 1st person experience without you being God. This is certainly a hard concept to fully grasp, but it is certainly not impossible. 

Second, even if I concede this point (I don't), omniscience simply means that God can know everything that is logically possible. Since it is "impossible" to know your first-hand experience, this is simply not a contradiction. 

B. God cannot be Omnipresent

My opponent is correct to state that God is in all places simultaneously including all times. However, this is far from impossible. There are two competing theories of time: The A theory and the B theory. The B theory of time argues that time is tenseless and the past, present, and future are all equally real all at the same time [2]. There is significant support for the B theory of time amongst physicist and philosophers today. Since God exists outside of time, it seems to imply that God looks at time from a B-theory perspective. 

C. God cannot be omnipotent 

Since God is defined as a "perfect being," there cannot be any imperfections. Creating a rock too heavy for God to lift would be creating an imperfection. Second, omnipotent means to do that which is logically possible [3] and not the ability to do everything and anything. God cannot create a married bachelor because it is logically impossible to do so. However, I think there is a more significant blow to this than that. In his debate with DetectableNinja, Contradiction writes: 

If an omnipotent being can do what is logically impossible, then he cannot only create situations which he cannot handle but also, since he is not bound by the limits of consistency, he can handle situations which he cannot handle"
D. God cannot be omnibenevolent

Again, I really do not quite understand this argument. Please elaborate a little bit and I will respond in the next round. 


IV. Sources 

Round 3
Published:
Thanks again to Virt. I will now defend my case.

I. Overview

Pro consistently makes a critical mistake in his responses, and I want to address it now. Please cross-apply my response where appropriate. The mistake I reference is that Pro keeps saying that god is bound by logic. I have four responses. (A) Pro fails to offer any substantive reason why god is bound by logic, and what can be claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. (B) An omnipotent being should be able to transcend its own nature and logic. Indeed, god should be able to make the false true and the absurd reasonable because he is God. To suggest that there is anything whatsoever god cannot do is to say that god is not god. (C) God is outside our ability to comprehend. Logic cannot extend beyond our range of comprehension as it would then cease to be logical. We therefore cannot logically makes claims about god. (D) Given that there are multiple universes, at least some of which have different laws of physics that ours, it is reasonable to assert that logic is not constant across universes. [1] If this is the case, and if god is omnipresent, it is not logic to assume that god operates by the laws of logic found specifically in our universe.

II. To Pass Over in Silence

Pro says that he does not understand this argument. I will provide some additional elaboration. Please extend this argument until a refutation by Pro is forthcoming. 

Fundamentally, this argument has to do with the inappropriateness and inadequacy of words when talking about god. Words express human experiences and ideas, things with which we have previously come into contact with in some way. I use the example of the alien to demonstrate this point. If you try to describe an alien without appealing to anything with which you have had prior experience or exposure, you will invariably fail. Suppose you imagine a three-eyed, green-bodied, antennae-sporting being with a forked tongue. Well, we have all been previously exposed to eyes, things in sets of three, the color green, bodies, antennae, forked-shaped objects, and tongues. Ultimately, our imagination can only repurpose things it has already encountered; it cannot invent anything truly outside of its experiential repertoire. So, whatever words or combination of words we use to describe potential aliens, everything we say about those potential aliens will have a point of reference in our own world. To put this simply: words are fundamentally anthropocentric.

God, in its vastness, ubiquity, depth, power, and transcendence, cannot be appropriately talked about, because it is literally and wholly beyond reference. There is nothing in our experiential wheelhouse that will allow us put god into words. The human limitations of our very language make sensical communication about god literally impossible. Even more phenomenological attempts to understand god are doomed to inadequacy, because the human mind relies on references to make sense of the world. We cannot, therefore, meaningfully and sensically think about god. Any attempt to talk or think about god is as farcically absurd as attempting to imagine or talk about an alien without appealing to any points of human understanding. Per Maimonides: "Human knowledge cannot comprehend this concept in its entirety for just as it is beyond the potential of man to comprehend and conceive the essential nature of the Creator, as [Exodus 33:20] states: 'No man will perceive, Me and live'." [4] Or, as I said in my case, "God, just by the very breadth of what such a being would be, is unreferenceable...We cannot think of god itself, and so we cannot talk rationally about god and its existence or nonexistence."

III. The Four O's

Pro drops my four clarifying definitions. Extend these definitions.

A. God Cannot be Omniscient

First, Pro's response is logically fallacious. Pro is appealing to god's omnipotence to demonstrate god's omniscience. I have four replies. (A) Pro's response conflates omnipotence and omniscience. (B) This begs the question by assuming god's omnipotence. (C) This begins to create a closed loop in which, to defend one of god's traits, Pro can simply appeal to another, thereby (a) obviating any need to actually defend any of the traits and (b) engaging in circular reasoning. (D) This is not really responsive to my actual argumentation, and here's why. Knowledge does not simply appear or disappear in one place or another; this is metaphysically impossible. To the extent that Pro wants god to be bound by logic, he cannot say that knowledge simply pops into god's head as if by magic. Since my firsthand knowledge is located only in me, in order for god to have knowledge of my firsthand knowledge, god must be coextensive with me

Second, Pro says that god is bounded by logical possibility in what it can know. But that caveat was not in the definition Pro dropped. God, per the definition, is "possessed of complete knowledge," which cannot be the case if it doesn't possess my firsthand knowledge.

B. God Cannot be Omnipresent

Pro's argument here is rooted in the B-theory of time. I have three responses. 

First, Pro gives absolutely no reason to believe B-theory, and so his argument has zero weight. It is ultimately Pro's obligation and responsibility to provide evidence or reasoning in support of his claims.

Second, per B-theory, time is tenseless. Thus, the statement, "I wrote this argument yesterday" is identical to saying "I wrote this argument on June 24th, 2019." But these statements do not express the same thoughts. "Yesterday" is relative, whereas "June 24th, 2019" is absolute, so these terms are not exchangeable without altering the sentence's meaning. For instance, "yesterday" implies that I am talking "today." This implication is not present when the exact date is used instead. 

Third, common sense leads us to reject B-theory. B-theory argues that there is no objective way to delineate between the past, present, and future. [3] Yet, the snowfall I experienced last January seems to be objectively in the past. Yes, it is in the past relative to now, but it is also objectively a fully realized event which is no longer occurring. That it is a fully realized event places it objectively within the past.

Fourth, B-theory seems to defy common sense in another way. If there is no distinction between past, present, and future, there is no directionality to time. Yet, we experience time as a forward progression, meaning that our own experiences of time should lead us to reject Pro's preferred view of it.

Fifth, the debate over which theory of time is the best is ongoing and largely unresolved. [2] This indicates, at a bare minimum, the plausibility of my argument here, and thus the need to suspend belief.

C. God Cannot be Omnipotent

While I made two arguments against god's omnipotence, Pro makes the choice to respond only to one of those arguments, namely, the rock paradox. Please extend the Aristotle Lecture argument I made as dropped.

On the rock paradox, Pro makes two responses, i.e. that god cannot create imperfections in itself and that god is bounded by logic. These argument essentially communicate the same idea: that god is limited by logic. I have already responded to this line of argumentation. And, again, there is nothing about logic in the definition of omnipotence I offered in my case and which Pro dropped. I should also add that god is not defined as a "perfect being," as Pro wrongly claims, and so its not clear how the imperfection argument is relevant.

D. God Cannot be Omnibenevolent

Pro says that he does not understand this argument. I will provide some additional elaboration. Please extend this argument until a refutation by Pro is forthcoming.

The argument chain of this argument proceeds as follows: if god is omnibenevolent, god must have a will. If god is omniscient, god cannot have a will. God cannot be both omnibenevolent and omniscient. If god is omnibenevolent, it must have a will because, to be a moral agent, god must have the power of moral choice. If god is omniscient, god cannot have a will, because complete knowledge of the future precludes the ability to freely decide in the present. To further explain this point, consider that if god is all-knowing, it would have know I was about to write "fart gun" before I wrote it. However, what if at the last second I chose to write "bumblebee larvae" instead? Well, then god would have been wrong, but god can't be wrong because it is omniscient. Yet, if god  knew for a fact that I was always going to write "fart gun," I never really had free will, because my actions were predetermined. This same dilemma applies to god itself. If god knows its actions in advance, its actions in the present are never genuinely free. Ergo, god cannot be omnibenevolent and omniscient simultaneously.

IV. Sources

Thank you! Please vote Con!


Forfeited
Round 4
Published:
At this point, any arguments Pro offered would be impermissible new and unfair (as I would have no chance to respond to those arguments). Therefore, I ask that voters use the debate rule against forfeits to render a verdict against Pro. It was unfortunate this debate panned out as it did.

Thank you. Please Vote Pro.
Published:
Sorry I lost complete track of time. 
Added:
With that said bsh1 needs to drop his no forfeit rule. If somebody has better arguments than you, using one less round than that punishment is too harsh it is also a judgement that should strictly belong to the judges. If I decide to judge this debate I will disregard the rule vut it is unlikely I vote on it
#25
Added:
My argument would have been that it is more rational to believe because the benefits of believeing outweigh the benefits of not believing.
#24
Added:
good debate
#23
Added:
good debate
#22
Added:
--> @bsh1
Yeah I wish I could have given you a better challenge, but school and work got in my way. One of the folks in my department left so I had to fill in for them plus work overtime in other departments
Contender
#21
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
That is why I almost always post arguments in the first 24 hours I have to post them. I did take the chance to remind you, and, esp. after you were short on time the first round, I find it extremely disappointing that you were not more conscious of the clock. I mean, it is what it is...but still.
Instigator
#20
Added:
Edit: Vote Con.
Instigator
#19
Added:
--> @bsh1
Sorry I completely lost track of time .
Contender
#18
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
You have 9+10 (or 21) minutes to post.
#17
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
You've got about 15hrs left to post.
Instigator
#16
Added:
--> @bsh1
I’ll have my arguments posted later tonight
Contender
#15
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
You’ve only got 18hrs or so left...
Instigator
#14
Added:
interesting debate
#13
Added:
I've only done one debate on this Site, though I've done a fair number over the years on DDO. My ELO was never very good, and the one debate that I did here I lost, so doubtlessly mine won't meet that standard. However, I think I could make some rather unusual arguments, if you were to let me accept.
My style is casual dialogue to reach a common understanding, so debating per se is not my forte. That might come across as rather undisciplined of me, and it is. But I *can* debate formally. Maybe you want a debate with somebody considerably better than me here but you could also do this topic with me elsewhere on the side?
#12
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
Take note, he's pulling a MAR, the definition insists on the being having omnibenevolence... Careful...
#11
#2
Criterion Con Tie Pro Points
Winner 1 point
Reason:
Due to the forfeit rule, and two rounds without arguments by pro, I feel it’s not reasonable for my to award this to anyone but con due to the rules. So as a result: this goes to con.
However, for the purposes of Feedback, I thought I’d note a quick summary of some of the better points and issues. This is not intended to be a specific vote style note, but more of a personal opinion on the arvukentsz
Saying that; I’m not a fan of the structure; it’s hard to follow when it really needs to be a back and forth, and I also felt this was a far too broad a debate, that somewhat went in a different direction than the resolution suggested. It was less a debate about whether faith was rational - but whether there was evidence for God.
Saying that, I thought pros cons take down of the cosmological argument was great: the second and fourth points (challenging the premises with radioactivity) were particularly strong.
The take down of fine tuning argument was devestating: I think the multiple angles pro pointed out really undermined the usage. (I even borrowed the circular logic point as inspiration in another debate!)
The turning around of Pascal’s wager too was pretty well done.
While there was some generalized boiler plate arguments I would have bet $20 would appear (pascal, 4os, some of the take down of the cosmological argument), I have to say the FTA and the CA points above really stood out.
The 4os - for me in general aren’t convincing. They seem more a way of subtly defining God into impossibility; in the context of the resolution, it made more sense; by focusing more on the incongruities of the properties of God to show its irrational. The argument didn’t go far enough though for me to really form a solid conclusions. Either way I would have likely assessed the win on these grounds anyway.
The pass over in silence thing: It seems pretty forced here, while I may have missed something: my biggest issue with it is that there assumes there is no point of reference for God to be able to discuss it. The implicit assumption in this debate from the pro God side is that there is a point of reference - personal experience and religion. I would have liked to have seen how this one would have played out as this was effectively dropped, and as it pretty much hit the resolution right on the head with it being directly relevant to whether it was rational or not - it was a significant drop too.
#1
Criterion Con Tie Pro Points
Winner 1 point
Reason:
I am using the forfeit rule of surrendering the debate if you forfeit a round. I would have ignored the rule had pro put up some sort of fight in the final round but he seems to have no problem with the rule being enforced here which forces me to respect the mutual decision of both debaters.