Instigator / Pro

Is there a God?


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Contender / Con

Is there enough evidence that God, or gods, actually exist. Many people hold the belief that some "higher-power" exists, but often the evidence for such a claim is rather lacking. Theists, as far as I'm aware, have failed to meet their burden of proof. Do you disagree?

Atheist- disbelief or lack of belief in a god or gods.
Theist- belief in a god or gods.
Exist- have objective reality or being.
Evidence- the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.
Burden of proof- the obligation to prove one's assertion.

Round 1
Resolution: Is there a God?
I regret that Pro has forfeited R1. Having nothing to rebut, I will proceed with my argument.

I Argument: Dealing with an interrogative resolution
I.a Typically, a debate resolution is more confusing when it is couched as an interrogative. The Instigator would normally make clear distinction in the debate Description on which side the Instigator stands, Pro, or Con. Of course, the instigator must make the selection, Pro or Con, but then, the Description should further clarify upon which answer, yes, or no, the Pro side will take in the debate. Pro clearly chose to be Pro. However, Pro offered only by the subtlety of a statement, “Theists, as far as I'm aware, have failed to meet their burden of proof”   to designate what the Pro side of the argument really means. I interpret that statement to propose that Pro designates an atheist’s view by response: No, there is no God. However, such a reply to a yes/no question implies that Pro should be Con. Thus, the problem with an ill-designated interrogative resolution. I accepted the debate with the above assumption, and another member had already made the query for clarification, but Pro did not clarify. I will proceed by my presumption noted above, and in the comment, that Pro is taking the position that the answer to the resolution question is: No, there is no God. I will, therefore argue: Yes, there is a God as the Con position.

II Argument: Yes, there is a God, v1
II.a I will present the evidence of a Guardian article, Religion: Why faith is becoming more and more popular.[1]  The article begins with a declared statement, the result of a statistical poll. As once a professional statistician, a Six Sigma Black Belt, retired, I can say with authority that although statistics is a science of probability, the minimum acceptance of reliability of a particular question’s response demands a 95% confidence level of truth. In the Six Sigma realm, that confidence level rises to 99.7% confidence of accuracy. That’s likely as accurate as one is going to acquire, particularly of questions that may not have 100% truth potential. “Is there a God” is likely a question whose answer is a lower confidence level than 95%, let alone 99.7%, unless one has had a personal visitation from God Almighty.

II.b The Guardian article cited in II.a states “84% of the global population identifies with a religious group.”[2]  However, one cannot infer from such a statement that all 84% would also say they specifically believe in a God [i.e., a supreme ruler of the universe]. Thus, there is a separation of “religion” and a “belief in God.” Let’s review:
II.b.1 For example, science and religion are often pitted against one another as a demonstration of belief/non-belief in God, but former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, declared this a “phony war,” designating a YouGov poll [Great Britain] which found that only 16% of believers accept the Biblical creation. No, this does not say that these 16% do not believe in God,[3]  the poll clearly designates them as believers; they just don’t buy that God created the “heaven and earth”[4]  by the Genesis description. Part of the problem is swallowing the creation as a 6-day-and-each-day-is-a-24-hour-period proposition. I do not believe this myself, yet I am a firm believer in God. Even if one accepts that the Earth was where it is now that it’s “day” was a 24-hour period, one has no evidence that it was always so during the creation event. Also, as the creation event indicates the God created the heaven and the earth, the other planets in our solar system were likely part of that creation, as well. Mercury has a continuous day, always presenting one face to the Sun. Jupiter’s “day” is all of 9 hours. Does this mean that Mercury’s creation is still ongoing, and that Jupiter’s was finished in roughly 1/3 the time that Earth required when Jupiter is 318[5]  times the size of Earth?

II.b.2 Further, the Guardian article indicates that of 3,000 international scientists, 45% are religious or spiritual.

II.b.3 A Pew Research Center poll found that while 9 in 10 Americans believe in “a higher power,” but only a slim majority believe in God as described in the Bible.”[6]  Specifically, the poll designated 3 types of beliefs and their relative percentages: 

1.     Believe in the Biblical God – 56%
2.     Believe in a higher power / spiritual force – 33%
3.     Do not believe in either God or a higher power/spiritual force – 10%

II.c One must conclude that a high majority of people believe God exists in some form; but not necessarily an exclusively Christian version. However, neither the resolution, nor the Description demand an exclusive Christian God as a Con BoP. One must conclude that worship of a tree somewhere in the jungles of Ubangibongo constitutes a belief in God. Or that all of nature is worshipped as a higher power belief.

III Argument: Yes, there is a God, v2
III.a I will present the evidence of St. Thomas Aquinas, who proposed The Five Ways,[7]  a philosophical paper describing the five proofs of God’s existence. They are:

III.a.1 Motion: Things cannot and do not put themselves in motion.
One is immediately reminded of Newton’s Three Laws of Motion as descriptive of the first of the Five Ways. “Newton's first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.”[8]  We still accept this principle of motion today.

III.a.2 Causation: Nothing causes itself. There is no “Nothing from Nothing.”
The biblical writers give us to understand that the universe had a temporal origin and thus imply creatio ex nihilo in the temporal sense that God brought the universe into being without a material cause at some point in the finite past.”[9]  So says Paul Copan and William Lane Craig from the reference [9]. However, “imply”  is a word laden with problems when compared against my arguments I & II, above. There is simply no legitimate translation of biblical text, when compared to Genesis of the Ancient Hebrew Torah.[10]  Gen 1 does not teach creatio ex nihilo. It does not narrate the creation of an inchoate earth, the waters of the abyss, the darkness which covered the abyss, or the wind that hovered over said waters; all of the above pre-exist the first creative fiat the narrator recounts: ‘Let there be light!’ (Gen 1:2-3).”[11]

III.a.3 Contingency: If nothing existed first, then nothing could have been created.
There exists a basic human curiosity extant from our earliest prehistory “memory” that humans wonder why that which is sensed by us is “…something rather than nothing or than something else.”[12]  “It invokes a concern for some full, complete, ultimate, or best explanation of what exists by contingency, necessity, causation and explanation…”  in short, “…the nature and origin of the universe.”[13]

III.a.4 Degrees of perfection: There are degrees of goodness, truth, nobility.
While perfection seems an ideal of impossible attainment, we are simply limiting our view to the attainment and not the steps followed to get there, such as not seeing the trees for the forest. “Scale down,” Aquinas is, in essence, saying.  If, today, we cannot be perfect in all things, such as attempting to achieve that taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”[14]  Taken as a whole, this is likely impossible to do. However, can we not determine to take two minutes every morning and night to brush our teeth, and repeat daily without error or omission? Yes, we can do that. How about telling our loved ones we love them and do so daily? Yes, we can do that, too. Simply add to the list, daily, things we can do perfectly. There are degrees of perfection that expand to forever. 

III.a.5 Teleology: natural things act for an end or purpose.
The classic questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? These are natural questions we may each have. The solution of these questions are the result of realizing that we, and nature with us, think and act for a purpose, and there is an ultimate purpose similar to the degrees of perfection, above, as well as each of the Five Ways link together to describe a whole: God exists.

I rest my case for round 1


Round 2
Resolution: Is there a God?
I regret that Pro has forfeited the debate. Having nothing to rebut, I will proceed with argument anticipation and deconstruction of potential Pro arguments.

I Argument: Addressing and defeating the Problem of Evil [POE]
I.a There is a syllogism that accompanies the POE:

            P1: If an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God exists, then evil does not exist.
            P2. There is evil in the world.
            C1. Therefore, an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God does not exist.

I.b P1 is constructed of two phrases: an if/then statement. Let’s call them P1.a and P1.b.

I.b.1 P1.a assumes that God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient, and, therefore, always acts with omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and omniscience. In other words, all God’s actions are extremes. What if God dos not always act with extreme measures? What if God often acts only to the level of Om-Om-Om necessary to accomplish the task? Do humans always act with maximum extremes? No, so why assume we can limit God to only extreme action? 

I.b.2 Therefore, P1.a is not an absolute, even as a preliminary if/then statement. The syllogism fails at this point, alone.

I.b.3 The other phrase, P1.b, is a fundamental syllogistic problem related to the first: It presents an IFF [if ands only if] logic:  assuming P1.a is always true [it isn’t, per I.b.1], then the follow-up P1.b must also always be true, or the entirety of P1 fails.

I.b.3.1 The assumption that only Good can exist if God exists is preposterous, as demonstrated by argument I.b.1.  Further, let us explore the following:
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things… 

And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.”[1]

I.b.4 We clearly see opposition in the world. There is good and evil in the world, and God has always allowed it to be so with a minimum handful of exceptions, and even in those cases, the entire human race was not obliterated. Therefore, P1 fails in entirety.

I.c Further, there is even Biblical proof that there is both good and evil in the world, and God allows it to be so.  Observe Genesis 2 of the Holy Bible. God has completed the Creation, and has put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to care for the Garden and all its creations; to have dominion over the earth [Genesis 1: 28].

I.c.1 However, 
“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of lifealso in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”[2]
I.c.2 God plants a garden with good and evil in it. Period.

I.d If P1 fails entirely, then so do P2, and, therefore, C1. Therefore, the POE argument fails.

II Argument:Addressing and defeating the Argument of Biblical Defects [ABD]
II.a In an essay by Theodore Drange, “The Arguments from… Biblical Defects [2006]”[3]Drange offers the following logic:

“[a] If the God of evangelical Christianity were to exist, then the Bible would be God’s only written revelation.

“[b] Thus, if that deity were to exist, then he would probably see to it that the Bible is perfectly clear and authoritative, and lack the appearance of merely human authorship.

“[c] Some facts about the Bible are following:
1.     It contradicts itself or is unclear in many places.
2.     It contains factual errors, including unfulfilled prophecies.
3.     It contains ethical defects [such as God committing/ordering atrocities.
4.     It contains interpolations [later insertions to the text]
5.     Different copies of the same biblical manuscripts say conflicting things.
6.     The biblical canon involves disputes and is apparently arbitrary.
7.     There is no objective procedure for settling any of the various disputes…

“[d] Therefore [from [c]], the Bible is not perfectly clear and authoritative, and has the appearance of merely human authorship.

“[e] Hence [from [b] & [d]], probably the God of evangelical Christianity does not exist.”

II.b This syllogism starts off on the same errant foot as the POE argument: [a] is an assumed P1.a/P1.b errant step, assuming an absolute that fails out of the chute. It assumes that the Holy Bibleis the only revelation we have worldwide from God. Is there evidence that it is the only revelation from God? Does the Holy Bible, itself, state that the compilation of books that comprise the Holy Bible today is the infallible “word of God,” speaking for the entire volume? No, it does not. 

II.b.1. The Holy Bible is not necessarily the only “word of God.” Do we really presume to command that God speaks only once? If the P1.a and P1.b of [a] above [under argument II.a] fail, what of the rest? [b] fails, as well. [c] & [d] will be discussed below, but I will demonstrate that both fail if [c] fails. Therefore, [e] fails.

II.b.2 The failure of [c] is as follows:
1.    [c] claims that the Holy Bible contains contradictions. It does. But let us understand the history:'

2.    The First Ecumenical Council met at Nicea in 325 CE, under the command of Alexander the Great, to formalize and canonize a set of scriptures. There were several councils over the next few centuries attempting to complete the canon. This was obviously the work of men who were both ignorant of accurate translation, and intentional in corruption.

3.    Ignorant, because at no time did the translators have access to original Old Testament [OT] and New Testament [NT] original scrolls for source material. The latest OT text available were written in the 7thcentury B.C.E., the Silver Ketef Hinnon Scrolls,[4]and these were far from a complete set of what consists of the OT today. The latest NT text available date from the 3rdcentury C.E.[5]

4.    Further difficulty: translation depends mostly on dictionary-to-dictionary comparison. The problem is two-fold: One, languages often have word-to-word indirect sensibility; there are compromises made. Two, language is derived from culture, and without understanding the culture, it’s language will be misunderstood. Dictionaries are notoriously poor in teaching culture. The result: inaccurate translation. This is true even with the best intentions. Add to that the probable assignment of translation to different people translating different scrolls.

5.    One of the difficulties of the Ecumenical Councils was the bickering over correct understanding of texts. We have generations of time between the Councils and the texts they had as sources. Effectively, the most convincing of voices prevailed in translation.

6.    Finally, a third difficulty: intentional corruption of doctrine based on the bickering over and above translation errors. Thus, contradictions exist, even if not contradiction in comparison of one “book,” such as Isaiah, to another “book”, such as Matthew, even on the same subject as “who is the Messaih?”  

7.    How did God allow this to happen? First, no one made reference to God as writer. He did not write a thing. Men did. Inspired men, but the Council did not have one fragment of their original writing. Were all men who wrote manuscripts between Isaiah and Benedictus Titus [a fictional translator for purposes of argument] equally inspired? Probably not. Why did God allow it? Free agency. Adam was told, “...Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[6]   Free agency, even if it violated God’s law.

8.    Therefore, [c] and [d] both fail, as does the following point, [e].

II.b.3 Does the failure of ABD mean that the Holy Bible is not dependable as God’s word to man? It may seem to be the case, however, the points, above, of II.a [c] all boil down to one word; confusion. Let us consult a book and chapter that discuss how to resolve the problem of confusion. 

II.c James 1:5. I will reference verses 2 – 6, and will quote verse 5 here, as the germane point of the argument, but, for brevity, I will add the full reference of James 5: 2-6 in comments.  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”   That is how to overcome confusion.

I rest my case and ask for your vote.
[1]Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2: 11, 13