Instigator / Pro
Points: 11

Does God exist?


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Debate details
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Two weeks
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Open voting
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Two weeks
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Four points
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Contender / Con
Points: 12
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Round 1
Hello all, thank you to con for accepting this debate. This is a bit of a test run for me,.  I do not debate very frequently. Please forgive the tearseness of my posts, this is being posted  my phone.

The argument I will be employing is the Leibnizian cosmological argument. Below I will state the premises and expound.

1. Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence. Either in something else or in the necessity of its own being.

2. The universe exists

3. The universe has an explanation for its existence. That explanation is God.

Therefore God exists.

Premise one and two are pretty uncontested, the principle of sufficient reason, and frankly, all of science demand that things that exist have explanations.

Unless Con is a solipsist, I think premise two stands without dispute.

So what of premise three?

As the first premise stated, the universe, being a thing that exists, is either explained by something outside of itself, or by its own nature. Something that exists with an explanation that is found in its own nature is metaphysically necessary.

For example, nothing caused the number three to exist.  Nothing caused the law of non contradiction to come into being. It exists necessarily.

For something to exist necessarily it must not fail to exist, and it must exist unchanged across all possible worlds. A possible world where the law of non contradiction isn't true or a world where numbers can suddenly cease to exist is logically untenable, therefore necessary entities exist without fail, eternally, and across all possible worlds.

This cannot be said for the universe for several reasons.

1. The universe does not have to exist the way it does

One can conceptualize our universe with very different fundamental properties. Our own universe does not have to exist the way it is in all possible worlds, one can imagine  this universe quite different from the way it is yet still logically possible. For example, one cannot conceive of a triangle having four sides. Because "triangleness" exists necessarily. There is no possible world with four sided triangles. One can however conceive of the universe having no life at all, or perhaps less stars. This means the universe does not meet the criteria for metaphysical necessity .

2. The universe is not eternal, and therefore will fail to exist, and once did not exist.

The Borde Guth Vilenkin theorem showed us that any expanding universe (our own) must have had a finite past. The entropy of the universe will eventually lead to its heat death. A finite beginning and a definite end categorically do not fit with the definition of a necessary being.

Therefore the universe is not necessary but contingent.

Therefore the universe has an explanation not in its own nature, but in something outside of itself

Whatever caused the universe, the sum totality of time, matter, and space, to exist, must have existed outside of time, matter and space.

Therefore this explanation is immaterial, non spatial, and timeless.

This is our definition of God.

Therefore God exists.

I will leave the floor to con. Thank you guys so much

Firstly, before we begin, I would like to thank my opponent, OntologicalSpider, for this debate today. Without further ado, let’s get into the arguments.

0. Definitions
 For this debate, as noted by my opponent’s opening round argument, we will be arguing over whether or not a monotheistic god (like the ones found in Abrahamic religions) is real or not. This monotheistic god will, for this argument, be referred to as God. Before we get into whether or not God is real, we first need to know what God is.There are many characteristics that are ascribed to God (such as aseity, immutability, and self-sufficiency), but the ones I will be focusing on are the “Omnis”:
  • Omnipotence (having unlimited power)
  • Omniscience (knowing everything)
  • Omnibenevolence (being always good)
  • Omnipresence (being everywhere at all times)
I will be focusing on the first three in particular. It is also important to note that all of these attributes need to be true in order for God to be real, as these are the very attributes defining God. With this in mind, I will now build my case.

1. Paradox of the Stone
The Paradox of the Stone, first conceptualized by Averroes in the 12th century, asks the question, “Can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it?” According to the very definition of omnipotence (having unlimited power), God would both be able to lift infinitely heavy things and create infinitely heavy objects. The paradox arises when we pit these two characteristics against each other.

So can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it?

If the answer is yes, then he is not omnipotent, for he can’t lift the stone.
If the answer is no, then he is not omnipotent, for he can’t create the stone.

Either way, this poses a large problem for omnipotence, which needs to be sound in order for God to be real.   

2. The Problem of Evil
The Problem of Evil, first conceptualized by Epicurus in the 3rd century BCE, goes like this [1]:
  1. God exists.
  2. God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient.
  3. An omnipotent being has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence.
  4. An omnibenevolent being would want to prevent all evils.
  5. An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence, and knows every way in which those evils could be prevented.
  6. A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.
  7. If there exists an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient God, then no evil exists.
  8. Evil exists (logical contradiction).
He is omnipotent, so he would have the power to stop evil, even before it happens. He is omniscient, so he would be able to know of all evils and their sources. He is omnibenevolent, so he would want to prevent evil from happening in the first place. Since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, he would be able to prevent all evil from happening. The problem is, there is evil in the world. So either God does not know of the evil happening (he is not omniscient), he cannot stop evil from happening (he is not omnipotent), or he does not want to stop evil from happening (he is not omnibenevolent). Since God must have all of these attributes in order to be real, the Problem of Evil poses an even larger problem for the reality of God. 

3. Free Will vs. Omniscience
It is stated in the bible that God granted man free will [2]. This supposed fact has been used by philosophers and apologetics as the basis to address many problems in theology, including Plantinga’s response to the Problem of Evil. However, if it is indeed the case that free will is true, then God cannot be omniscient. 

This is because omniscience entails knowing absolutely everything, including all the events that have happened, are happening, and will ever happen. This means that God already knows what you are going to do, even before you do it. This means that for whatever decision you make, there is a 100% chance that the possible outcome that does happen happens, and a 0% chance of every other possible outcome happening. Free will, on the other hand, stipulates that every possible outcome that a being can choose to do has a non-zero chance of happening (otherwise what choice would there be?). If one is to accept both free will and omniscience, then one must accept that there is both a zero and non-zero chance for a possible outcome to happen, which is contradictory. Either free will does not exist, or God is not omniscient.

Now, I will address my opponent’s opening round arguments.

R1. The Fallacy of Composition
Firstly, in my opponent's argument, he states that since the universe exists, it must have a singular cause (that being God). More specifically, my opponent's argument claims that since everything that exists in the universe (as we do not know of anything that exists outside of the universe) has a cause, then the universe as a whole must have a cause. This commits the Fallacy of Composition, the error of assuming that what is true of a member of a group is true for the group as a whole. To demonstrate this fallacy, I will use the analogy of a flock of sheep. Each sheep in the flock was born from an ewe, but does that mean that the flock as a whole was born from an ewe? Of course not. Similarly, just because everything in the universe had a cause, does not automatically mean that the universe as a whole had a cause. 

R2. Begging the Question
In his opening argument, my opponent makes this syllogism:
1. Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence. Either in something else or in the necessity of its own being.
2. The universe exists.
3. The universe has an explanation for its existence. That explanation is God.
We can also take this syllogism and apply it to the "explanation" of the universe, God. 
1. Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence. Either in something else or in the necessity of its own being.
2. God exists.
3. God has an explanation for His existence.
What is the explanation for God's existence? According to the syllogism, it is either something else, or in the necessity of its own being. Let’s consider both cases.

Consider the case of something else. This would mean that something else caused God. Let's call him Supergod. If Supergod created God, then what created Supergod? And what created that? And that? And that? This would lead to an infinite regress of Gods, which would mean that there is no "first" cause, which is what the argument is trying to prove. In essence, it would be self-defeating. 

Now what about the idea that God exists in the necessity of His own being? The problem here is that by claiming that God exists of His own necessity, you are claiming that God is a necessary entity. By claiming that God is a necessary entity, you are, by the very definition of "necessary", asserting that He exists. The problem with this is that you have put God's existence inside of the premise, when the conclusion you are trying to get is to prove God's existence. This begs the question. 

In my opening statement, I have shown several problems that question one or more of the characteristics that God must have if he is real. I have also made a rebuttal of my opponent's opening statement. I will now pass it back to Pro, and await his response.

Round 2
I would like to thank my opponent for his thorough treatment of this subject. I need to point out that my opponent is arguing against one argument. I will be arguing against several while defending mine. If I do not provide an as in depth treatment of my opponent's arguments, please understand. I am still posting this from my phone, so please forgive my brevity.

I would like to begin by stating I do not agree with con's definition of omnipotence as "unlimited power" as power by definition limits. For example, as a being increased in power it would be limited in the amount of fear it would experience, or its ability to relate to weaker beings. In the mainstream of Christian philosophical tradition, omnipotent means that God can do all things which are logically possible, and cannot interact with or have causal relation to things which are not logically possible.

This is so because things which are not logically possible are things which, by definition, are not parts of existence.

For example, God cannot create a square circle. A square circle is a logical impossibility and therefore is not a part of existence, neither does it have potential to be.

Getting down to con's question, can God create a rock so heavy He cannot lift it, the answer is simple. An omnipotent being is one that has, by definition, all power over the material created order. A rock is part of the material created order,, therefore an omnipotent being can exercise all power over all rocks.

To suggest a rock with properties that would stop an omnipotent being from exercising power over it is a logical contradiction, and therefore cannot be part of existence.  And God cannot create logical contradictions.

Con's first objection is negated. Omnipotence is coherent.

In regards to con's second objection, there are many ways which I could respond to this, however, my opponent has created a syllogism which is logically sound.

There is just one problem

Con has not substantiated premise four.

"An omnibenevolent being would want to prevent all evils."

Con bears an enormous burden of proof with this statement because it would have to be proven that an omnibenevolent being would notallow any act of evil for the sake of bringing about a greater good.

If it is logically possible that God could allow even one act of evil to bring about a greater good, premise four is negated.

I will await con to prove premise four.

In regards to my opponents third objection, it is not in the scope of this debate to discuss Biblical doctrine. My opponent has outsourced his argument to a web page teaching one of several Biblical interpretations regarding free will.

Although I do not believe that God having foreknowledge negates our free will, because God's knowledge is passive not causal, I will, for sake of brevity, suggest humans do not have freedom to choose that which God knows we will not choose. This lack of freedom in no way negates the possibility of an omniscient being existing.

Con's third argument is negated.

Defending my argument

Moving on, I would like to point out that my opponent is not being consistent. My opponent stated:

"Similarly, just because everything in the universe had a cause, does not automatically mean that the universe as a whole had a cause. "

Con has misunderstood my argument. This was not an argument from causality like the Kalam, but one that argues from explanation. What explains the existence of something.

Since con has seemingly gone the route of suggesting the universe is without explanation, I will use this to answer his second point.

Con says

" This would lead to an infinite regress of Gods, which would mean that there is no "first" cause, which is what the argument is trying to prove. In essence, it would be self-defeating. "

Again, this was not a first cause argument, but if con is willing to suggest the universe  need not an explanation, I will suggest God does not need an explanation in necessity or contingency either.

If my opponent is willing to rethink this reasoning regarding the universe, I will defend God's necessary existence further.

I will close by saying necessary existence is not circular, it is to say that no outside entity explains the existence of the necessary being.

Con, thank you so much!

--> @OntologicalSpider
Here's a handy guide to help your future debates. With just a little formatting, people will be able to see at a glance if you addressed the opposing case.
--> @JesusChrist4Ever
Yes, it's great. It was pretty easy to guess with that rant about what would happen if being evil meant you didn't exist.
--> @SirAnonymous
Yes, in fact I am. Even though I am Roman Catholic, I agree with most of the points in that YouTube series.
--> @JesusChrist4Ever
Con left the site, so he won't be able to answer your question.
This is pretty random, but are you a fan of the LutheranSatire YouTube channel?
So let me get this straight. Con's argument against the existence of God is that he is "evil?" Why, if being evil made you cease to exist, all wars would end the moment they start, Adolf Hitler would've gone up in a puff of smoke when he formed the Nazi party, and Joseph Stalin would've vanished before he sent a single person to the gulag. Your argument makes no sense.
Just as a side note, after further research, it appears to me that Leibniz, the founder of this argument, did not actually argue for the finitude of the universe, but formulated this argument to work even with an eternal universe.
--> @PressF4Respect
I have enjoyed our debate and discussions on the forum. I would like to debate you again in the near future. Do you have any ideas on potential topics we could discuss?
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
In pro's first round, he directly references the "the law of non contradiction," and insists the god with a capital G is the necessary cause; and pretty much immediately raises a problem of "The universe does not have to exist the way it does," and never really connects God in there other than some slight of hand with the didit fallacy.
Con counters with the the fallacy of Composition, which pro defends by saying his argument isn't based on causality (the whole God is the necessary first cause thing he argued... very weird). Con also counters with an infinite regression loop, which pro fails to defend, merely proclaims any random thing can be the first cause without explanation for why that would be necessary; which leaves the question of why would it be God just hanging.
I will say that pro did a decide job with con's own arguments on the subject...
I should first say that pro's insistence "it is not in the scope of this debate to discuss Biblical doctrine" is false. When you argue something based on biblical doctrine instead of just /the universe had some cause/ you can't then throw it out when it's no longer convenient. That runs dangerously close to moving the goalposts.
On rocks, pro successfully defended. God can theoretically do anything otherwise impossible with all matter in the universe, and it would be a logical contradiction to then change the rules against itself to not. ... Not grading based on this, but a glaring weakness con could have exploited was that the spontaneous creation of matter is impossible, so God existing and creating things would be a violation of the limits pro has stated.
On omnibenevolence, pro begs the question of what if an omnibenevolent being isn't really omnibenevolent. This challenges if the creator is really the capital G God or not, so greatly harms pro's case.
On omniscience, pro does manage to defend by throwing out free will. Con likely would have extended it with further explanation for why, but this was not done. Of course, this likely would have done even greater harm to the omnibenevolent point as evil people have no power to not choose otherwise.
Con was the only one to use sources, but with so few, I do not feel they had enough impact on the debate. I am however learned on these theologies, so the sources offered no surprises for me.
Conduct for forfeiture.
In the end, this debate doesn't lean much in con's favor, but pro was the one with the primary BoP.
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Con FF the majority of the debate, that's poor conduct.
Debate is largely incomplete, all other points tied.