Atheism v. Theism
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The classic "Does God Exist" debate
I will be arguing for atheism in this debate.
1. Opening arguments only
2. Rebuttals only
4. Closing argument
For the purposes of this debate, the term "God" will be defined broadly as to include the general attributes (ie: omnipotence, omniscience) commonly associated with Judeo-Christian monotheism. That is to say, I am not referring to any specific deity. Hence doctrines such as the incarnation and Trinity are irrelevant to this debate. "Probable" will be defined as being more likely than not.
The time limit between replies is 2-weeks. 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.
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”– Epicurus x
For the purpose of this debate, I will be defining evil as actions or things that are harmful to the well-being of persons. The Jewish philosopher Maimonides identifies three categories of evil: natural evils such as earthquakes and hurricanes; evil done to others, such as murder and rape; and evil we do to ourselves, such as a smoker developing lung cancer.
II. Naturalism is a better model
The scientific method is all about the search for models, creating predictions with those models, and confirming or refuting those models. Naturalism claims that the Universe is entirely self-contained, that only the natural world exists, and this natural world is governed by laws that science can discover. Theism, on the other hand, says that in addition to the natural world, there is God, who is outside this universe, can interact with this universe, and can perform miracles.
I contend that Naturalism is a far better model than Theism, for several reasons:
First, the scope of our universe is best explained under naturalism. In our galaxy alone, there are at least 100 thousand million stars , and over 4,000 confirmed exoplanets . Finally, the Hubble space telescope confirmed the existence of over 100 billion galaxies . This is exactly what we would expect under naturalism.
12. exoplanets.nasa.gov/faq/6/how-many-exoplanets-are-there 13. https://www.space.com/25303-how-many-galaxies-are-in-the-universe.html
- In causa (Causality): Causality is the most convincing and scientifically plausible argument for the cosmological approach. Aristotle was the earliest propounder of the argument known as he figured that there must be a reason why the universe exists. Aquinas in his 5 ways stretched the line and made it the most popular by bringing in the discussion of the First Cause and the argument from contingency. So, even according to naturalists following randomness in existence, something might not have existed instead of existing but it did. This form of existence has been billed as the contingent form of existence of a thing or an object according to Aquinas. And because it stands upon that contingency, it must have a cause- not necessarily another contingent being but probably a non-contingent one proving to be the ultimate causation behind the creation of the universe. But how does he prove that it must be a non-contingent being? Well, following the same theory, since anything could not have existed instead of existing, there must have been a time when nothing ever existed. Therefore, the possibility of conjuring a contingent being out of nothing or another contingent being goes nil and so there must be a Necessary being that has to be there for all the contingent beings to come to life. Because nothing comes out of nothing, this Necessary being is rationally attributed to be the omnipotent God. Interestingly, even if it's regarded that the universe has no beginning, this formulated argument of Aquinas still operates and reasons for an Uncaused Cause behind the universe. There has been a variation of this argument in place by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz who articulated the "Principle of Sufficient Reason" in the early 1700s. He quotes-
“There can be found no fact that is true or existent, or any true proposition without there being a sufficient reason for its being so and not otherwise, although we cannot know these reasons in most cases. Why is there something rather than nothing? The sufficient reason […] is found in a substance which […] is a necessary being bearing the reason for its existence within itself.”
- In Fieri (Becoming): This variant of the cosmological argument retains the basic spirit of the First Cause and states that the First Cause is the ultimate and every single effect afterwards can be rooted back to it. The Leibniz Principle mentioned above is basically an In Fieri argument that explains the First Cause being independent of all the created contingent existence. It often goes with an analogy of a house that asks for a builder to be built in the first place but it holds even after the builder is gone or more like a set of dominoes pushed by an individual [All analogies are flawed; therefore this one is not to be regarded to be something fundamental to my argument]. However, the pure First Cause theory on its own carries the burden over and the Becoming variant just adds to the credibility fitting into the modern understanding.
- Kalam Cosmological Argument: William Lane Craig has a very strong and one of the most solid cases to present in this regard. According to him,
“Fine-tuning refers to the surprising precision of nature’s physical constants, and the beginning state of the Universe. To explain the present state of the universe, even the best scientific theories require that the physical constants of nature and the beginning state of the Universe have extremely precise values.”- Biologos
If John wins a 1-in-1,000,000,000 lottery game, you would not immediately be tempted to think that John (or someone acting on his behalf) cheated. If, however, John won three consecutive 1-in-1,000 lotteries, you would immediately be tempted to think that John (or someone acting on his behalf) cheated. Schlesinger believes that the intuitive reaction to these two scenarios is epistemically justified. The structure of the latter event is such that it… justifies a belief that intelligent design is the cause… Despite the fact that the probability of winning three consecutive 1-in-1,000 games is exactly the same as the probability of winning one 1-in-1,000,000,000 game, the former event… warrants an inference of intelligent design.
"go where the evidence leads."
“an intelligent being as involved in some way in the design of conditions that would allow life to arise and evolve.”
"Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule.” Of course you would… A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question." 
"They plan and Allah (God) plans too and God is the best of planners" (Quran 8:30).
"Surely I know whatever you don't know" (Quran 2:30)
“ people with free will decide to cause suffering and act in other evil ways. It's their choice, not of God”
First, the scope of our universe is best explained undernaturalism.
the universe is a finely-tuned cosmic killing machine. Our very source of light and heat causes cancer, thousands of killer asteroids nearby that could wipe out life, gamma rays, supernovae, and harmful radiation can easily wipe out life.
Third, under naturalism, you would expect the Earth and the universe to be billions of years old to allow sufficient time for life to evolve
But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?— Charles Darwin, to William Graham 3 July 1881