Instigator / Pro
Points: 27

Does God Exist?

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 10 votes the winner is ...
semperfortis
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Religion
Time for argument
Two weeks
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
15,000
Contender / Con
Points: 70
Description
I want to thank semperfortis for accepting this debate.
RESOLUTION
Resolved: It is probable that God exists.
Rounds:
1. Opening
2. Clash
3. Clash
4. Closing arguments/clash
For the purposes of this debate, the term "God" will be defined broadly as to include the general 4'Os (omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being) who is the source of creation.) That is to say, I am not referring to any specific deity. Hence religious texts and religious doctrines are irrelevant to the debate. .
The time limit between replies is 72 hours. If special circumstances arise, one side may ask the other to wait out his or her remaining time. If one side explicitly concedes or violates any of these terms, then all seven points will be awarded to the other. By accepting this challenge, you agree to these terms.
The burden of proof is shared. It is incumbent on me to show that God's existence is probable, and it is incumbent on my opponent to show that God's existence is not probable. It is thus not enough to simply refute my arguments. My opponent must also erect his own case against the probability of God's existence.
Round 1
Published:
I want to begin by thanking semperfortis for accepting this debate. It is an immense pleasure to be debating you on this important topic. With that, let’s get into my arguments.
 
I. 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.
 
II. 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 inNature 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.
 
III. The Ontological Argument
 
1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
 
In philosophy, there are 3 types of beings: a possible being (such as a sasquatch), an impossible being (like a married bachelor), and a necessary being (such as numbers and logic). Likewise, there are 4 types of worlds: the actual world (the one that we live in), a possible world (a world that is possible), and an impossible world (a world that cannot exist). If something is possibly necessary in one possible world, then it is necessary in all possible worlds. This is axiom logic which says S5: If possibly necessarily P, then necessarily P.
 
Since God exists in some possible worlds, then he must exist in all possible worlds.
 
IV. Conclusion
 
I believe I have given 3 solid reasons to believe that God exists. First, 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. Second, 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. Finally, by modal logic, the mere possibility that a maximally great and perfect being exists shows that it must exist in every possible world.
 
I look forward to your response.

V. 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.




Published:
== Neg ==

Prologue
Thank you Virtuoso, it is a pleasure debating with you. Good luck. 
 
C1.Un-caused Universe (UU)
Note: This is my opening argument and not a rebuttal for the Cosmological Argument; although it refutes it indirectly.
God is defined to be the source of all creation i.e the universe. Hence, I affirm that scientific consensus postulates that the notion of a caused universe is most likely sophistry. Therefore, by extension, the notion of God (the creator of the universe) is most likely sophistry.
 
C1.1 Preface - A-Series vs B-Series of Time
A caused universe is fundamentally predicated by Presentism or a framework upholding the A-Series of time. The veracity of the A-Series of time is rooted by the veracity of “tensed facts” wherein relative temporal moments illustrate different truth values [1] viz. the truth of a fact is relative, depending on the frame of reference of the observer. This observation regarding the relationship between the caused universe and the A-Series of time is deemed a truism amongst time theorists. More so, even William Craig, an advocate of the Cosmological Argument from Contingency (an argument which presupposes a caused universe) states:

“From start to finish, the kalam cosmological argument is predicated upon the A-Theory of time” [2]

Therefore, it can be seen that a caused universe is contingent upon the veracity of the A-Series of time. Hence, I aim to show that axioms a posteriori innately refute the A-Series of time.

The B-Series of time (as a superset of Eternalism) refutes the notion of causal relationships as it affirms that the past, present and future are equally real and thus facilitates a theory of time which scientifically and logically explains the existence of an un-caused universe. William Craig describes the B-Theory of time as such:

On a B-Theory of time, the universe does not in fact come into being or become actual at the Big Bang; it just exists tenselessly as a four-dimensional space-time block that is finitely extended in the earlier than direction. If time is tenseless, then the universe never really comes into being, and, therefore, the quest for a cause of its coming into being is misconceived.” [2]
 
Thus, I will format this as a deductive syllogism.
 
C1.2 UU Deductive Syllogism
P1: If the universe is caused, the A-Theory of time is true
P2: The A-Theory of time is not true
C: The universe is uncaused
 
P1: P --> Q
P2: ¬Q
C: ¬P
C from P1 and P2, Modus Tollens.
 
C1.2 Premise One
I assume this premise is uncontroversial between my opponent and I. As aforementioned, the notion of a caused universe and the A-Series of time come hand-in-hand, as without the existence of tensed facts there is no distinction between past, present and future.
 
C1.2 Premise Two
Here will be the bulk of my argument.
 
C1.2.1 Prerequisites for Causation
The notion of causation is inherently incumbent on cause and effect; where a cause precedes the effect and there exists knowledge of the distinction between the cause and the effect. For example, without a cause preceding the effect, there is no possible way to identify what the cause or the effect is. Hence, it can be drawn that causality is inherently tied with the arrow of time, as the cause would have to precede the effect by a finite amount of time [3].
 
Moreover, events that occur are logically bound with metaphysical possibility or necessity. The notion of causation requires cause ‘Y’ and effect ‘Z’. Y and Z can only occur if they are logically possible, either contingently or necessarily [4]. For example, ‘there exists no such cause Y, such that effect Z is the existence of a squared circle’, since the concept of a squared circle is metaphysically incongruent. Hence, it has been demonstrated that the coherency of causality rests upon the adherence to existing physical/logical laws and axioms.
 
Therefore, causality is bound upon existing physical/logical laws and time’s arrow to be coherent. Furthermore, the idea of a caused universe is ultimately incoherent, as prior to the origin of the universe, there were neither time’s arrow nor physical/logical laws. Hence, the prerequisites for causation to even take place didn’t exist and therefore to talk of a caused universe is ultimately incoherent.
 
Since the A-Series of time presupposes a caused universe (with the existence of tensed facts, the universe could not be tenseless) this refutes the A-Series of time.
 
 
C1.2.2 B-Theory of Time (Eternalism) – The Block Universe
Here I argue that the B-Theory of time is far more likely to be true and that general scientific consensus affirms such in earnest. Eternalism envisions the universe to be tenseless, existing with one time and three spatial dimensions, where there can be no *objective* passing of time [5] and that causation is incoherent. This is dissimilar to Presentism, or the A-Series of time, where it is only the present that is true. The distinction can be depicted with the following diagram:
[6]
 
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity affirms the B-Theory of time and refutes the A-Theory of time because:

I) General relativity affirms the ontology of a 4-dimensional, block universe
II) Special relativity holds true that the laws of physics are the same, regardless of the frame of reference. However, observers can disagree on time-separated events (the present) but are all equally correct.

I)                    
Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity depicts a universe where time itself is an axis in a 4-dimensional, spatial plane. The theory provides a unified description of gravity, space-time and how gravity effects space-time. As such, it has been shown that space-time can be curved by objects with mass as it distorts the illusory interpretation of the passage of time. This was corroborated by the phenomenon of ‘gravitational lensing’, where it was hypothesised under the theory of relativity that objects with mass curve the space-time around it, and that light that follows the curved geometry will appear distorted, or ‘lensed’ to an outside observer [7]. This was first tested during an eclipse, where the light that can be seen around the moon would be ‘slightly shifted’ due to how the moon’s gravitational influence would curve the spatial geometry of the path the light is taking. The experiment was conducted by Arthur Eddington who travelled to the island of Principe off the west coast of Africa to watch the solar eclipse of 29 May 1919. Eddington’s observations published in 1920 confirmed this hypothesis, thus ratifying general relativity [8]. Many other experiments have been conducted which stipulate with these findings, including the research of the Hubble Space Telescope, which ultimately alludes to the expansion of space-time due to the red-shifting of distant galaxies [9].
 
Hence, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity provides cumbersome evidence for the ontology of our universe to be ‘block-like’, where the past, present and future are all equally real as it postulates time to be a distinct dimension. Such a universe renders the A-Series of time false.
 
II)
Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity posits that absolute simultaneity is false and that relative simultaneity is true [10]. To give this context, any observer will have a frame of reference. Let’s say events ‘X & Y’ occurs, it is impossible to say in an absolute sense that two distinct events occur at the same time if those events are separated in space. A more layman’s example is this,

“a car crash in London and another in New York appearing to happen at the same time to an observer on Earth, will appear to have occurred at slightly different times to an observer on an airplane flying between London and New York” [10].

This is due to how objects moving at a quicker, but constant velocity relative to another object will experience time more slowly relative to the other object [11]. Hence, what special relativity shows is that observers in different frames of reference have different perceptions of whether or not a pair of events happened at a specific time, with there being no definitive way to prove whose perception has more veracity than the other. This refutes the A-Theory of time, because it shows that there is no *objective present* as each frame of reference perceives the present differently and are all equally correct.
 
This entails Eternalism, as it alludes to the present being *illusory* and entails that the present is intangible.
 
 
C1.2.3 Retrocausality
As aforementioned, the notion of causality is underpinned by an arrow of time to depict that ‘cause’ precedes ‘effect’. However, retrocausality (or backwards causation) is a concept where the ‘effect’ precedes the ‘cause’ [12]. Such a concept would be absurd under the A-Theory of time. However, there is evidence to suggest that such a concept is prevalent in the quantum world.

To preface this claim, research abundantly suggests that there exists a pervasive asymmetry in time and that this time-symmetry extends to the causal dependences at the quantum level [12]. Price (2012) created a viable argument for retrocausality, showing that time-symmetry directly implies retrocausality  [12]. Moreover, it is further demonstrated with quantum entanglement, which suggest that entangled particles interact with each other retrocausally when one particle is observed and its wave function collapses [13].
 
Therefore, the block universe theory is not only congruent with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity but also makes successful predictions in the quantum universe with tremendous accuracy which otherwise would have been deemed absurd under the A-Theory of time.
 
C1.2 Conclusion
Premise one is fairly axiomatic so the real debate is decided with premise two, to which I have provided a preponderance of a posteriori evidence for. From the evidence provided, the A-Theory of time is almost certainly false. Hence, it can be concluded that the universe is almost certainly uncaused.
 
C1.3 The Universe Lacks a Need for God
This argument is logically presented as such:
 
P1: If God exists, then the universe is caused
P2: The universe is uncaused
C: God does not exist
 
P1: P --> Q
P2: ¬Q
C: ¬P
C from P1 and P2, Modus Tollens.
 
C1.3 Premise One
This is true per the definition of God in the debate description. God would act as an effective Aristotlian cause.
 
C1.3 Premise Two
The veracity of this premise is upheld with C1.2.
 
C1.3 Conclusion
Hence, the conclusion logically follows and the resolution is successfully negated.
 
 
 
C2. Occam’s Razor
This is a form of ontological parisomony which deems a competing theory a priori most likely if that theory has less ontological commitments than the other theory. [14] If two theories X and Y have the same ontological commitments, but X is ontologically commited to Z and Y is not, it would deem Y as more parsimonious than X.
 
Thus, my argument is frameworked by Theism versus Metaphysical Naturalism. Metaphysical Naturalism has two ontological commitments: the physical universe and the laws that govern the universe. Whereas Theism has three ontological commitments: the physical universe, the laws that govern the universe and God.
 
Hence, the theory sans the inclusion of God is deemed a priori most likely.
 
Thus, the resolution is negated as the contrapositive would dictate if the theory not including God is likely, then it would logically entail that the theory including God is unlikely.
 
 
Conclusion
I have provided two arguments: Occam’s Razor and the argument for an un-caused universe. Both successfully nullify the resolution. Per the debate format, I will refrain from rebutting my opponent's opening arguments until round 2. I look forward to a great debate. Over to Con.
 
 
References
[2] The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, pp. 183-184
[5] Tim Maudlin (2010), "On the Passing of Time", The Metaphysics Within Physics
[8] Dyson, F.W.; Eddington, A.S.; Davidson, C.R. (1920). "A Determination of the Deflection of Light by the Sun's Gravitational Field, from Observations Made at the Solar eclipse of May 29, 1919"

Round 2
Forfeited
Published:
Extend.
Round 3
Forfeited
Published:
Extend.
Round 4
Forfeited
Published:
Thanks for the debate. Perhaps we can have a rematch.
Added:
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments ✗ ✔ ✗ 3 points
Better sources ✗ ✔ ✗ 2 points
Better spelling and grammar ✗ ✔ ✗ 1 point
Better conduct ✗ ✗ ✔ 1 point
Reason: PRO forfeits three of four rounds
#5
Added:
--> @Melcharaz
Essence I suppose.
Contender
#4
Added:
what proof is there to suggest an omnibenevolent being? even the God of the bible is cited as Hating the wicked. psalm 5:5 and david, a man after God's own heart quoted psalm 139:19-22
#3
Added:
--> @Virtuoso
Just had the same problem -- didn't even realise it didn't include my diagram :(
Contender
#2
Added:
--> @semperfortis
I really need to do a better job at editing once I copy and paste from my word doc. Ugh.
Instigator
#1
#10
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
FF
#9
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
RFD in comments
#8
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Occam’s razor doesn’t do enough to negate independently. It proves that, other things being equal, we should assume the naturalistic position. As evidenced by Pro’s entire case, he doesn’t think other things are equal. So really, it doesn’t do too much for Con beyond shifting the burden of proof.
Pro’s cosmological argument clashes directly with Con’s argument on a caused universe. Pro argues that since the universe began to exist, it must have a cause, by intuition. I’m not sure I buy Pro’s intuitive justification for this, given that it’s unclear why a rabbit is analogous to the entirety of space-time, especially since Pro’s own quote says “the laws of physics are broken down” at the beginning of the universe. Pro also fails to link this contention to the definition of God in the description—“extremely powerful” doesn’t mean “omnipotent,” and I’m unclear why the other three properties of God are met here either. Con has a convoluted description of the A-series and B-series of time to challenge that the universe began to exist—but there’s a couple of sentences here and there that make it somewhat clear what they’re talking about (e.g., “[there is] no *objective present* as each frame of reference perceives the present differently and are all equally correct”), which means that the universe does not require a cause. This argument gains offense from the idea that if the universe exists as a tenseless block, it cannot have a cause that precedes it. (In practice, this seems like a defensive argument because simultaneous causation would still be possible, if my understanding of this is correct, but Pro doesn’t respond to it or bring it up so I don’t factor that into my decision.)
Pro has a bunch of other arguments remaining that Con doesn’t address—the ontological argument and the one from a fine-tuned universe. Neither of these seems to link directly to the very hard BoP Pro sets on himself through the debate description of proving an omnipotent/omniscient/omnibenevolent/omnipresent God. The ontological argument is underexplained, because I don’t know what “maximally great” means. Pro needs to show the link that a being defined as necessarily existing which also carries the definition of the four Os exists in some possible world—and that’s a pretty high BoP that Pro doesn’t fulfill. The teleological argument links to some intelligent design of the universe—not necessarily from the kind of being defined.
Pro’s arguments don’t link directly enough to the resolution, and he drops Con’s offense by forfeiting. Thus, conduct and arguments to Con.
#7
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
3/4 forfeit. Arguments were equal first round.
#6
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Full forfeit.
#5
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Pro FF the majority of the debate! That's poor conduct!!!
#4
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Full Forfeit
#3
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
FF
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
FF
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Full forfeit.