Instigator / Pro
12
1488
rating
1
debates
0.0%
won
Topic

This house believes: Motion in the universe points to the existence of God.

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
3
6
Sources points
6
6
Spelling and grammar points
3
3
Conduct points
0
3

With 3 votes and 6 points ahead, the winner is ...

Sum1hugme
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Philosophy
Time for argument
Two weeks
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Contender / Con
18
1669
rating
25
debates
78.0%
won
Description
~ 181 / 5,000

By "exist" I mean to have objective being in reality.

By God I mean an omnipotent, eternal being.

By motion, I mean the actualization of a potential, in other words, change.

Round 1
Pro
First and foremost a huge thank you to my opponent, for not only accepting this debate, but for the many helpful exchanges in the forum prior to this debate. I am not a fan of huge walls of text, and the argument I will be employing is a bit in depth, so I will try to be concise as possible. Firstly, some definitions. 

1. Exist: To have actual being. 1

2. God: For our purposes, God in this debate will be defined as a being who created all things which were created, this being is eternal and all powerful. This specificity is most useful for the argument at hand. Does my opponent accept this definition? If so, great, we shall continue. 

3. Motion: The word motion as employed today means change with respect to location. However, the Thomistic argument I am employing uses a slightly more antiquated definition, and that is simply change. 

4. CHANGE: This is important to define, as the argument at hand defines change in a very specific way. That is, change is the actualization of potential. i.e., the coffee in your cup grows cold, the potential for it to be cold was actualized. The glass falls off the counter and shatters, the potential for the glass to exist as broken pieces became actual. 

Any qualms? If not, we shall continue right into the argument. The syllogism is actually quite simple, but needs much expounding. 


1. There exist in the world entities in motion (i.e. things which have potentials actualized)

2. Whatever is in motion is set in motion by another. (i.e. whatever potential becomes actual is actualized by another, that "another" is something itself actual, as mere potential cannot actualize anything.)

3. An infinite regress of movers carries with it no explanatory power for how any entity was set in motion. Therefore this chain of movers must terminate with a prime mover, in other words, an entity with the principle of motion in itself. An unmoved mover, or, more specifically, an unactualized actualizer. 

This is where we need to do some analogical thinking, and get to the heart of the argument. 

Suppose I have a series of dominoes. Domino A falls and knocks over domino B. Domino B falls and knocks over domino C. C falls and knocks over domino D, D in turn knocks over the next one, and the next one knocks over the next one, on and on. Now supposed I asked, why are these dominoes in motion? (why is their potential to fall over actualized?) Since the dominoes have no power to actualize their own potential to fall over (they do not have the principal of motion in themselves) it stands to reason they were pushed over by an entity that had the principle of motion in itself, namely my hand. 

Now let's say, one objects, "no, the domino chain is infinite, domino 5 trillion was set in motion by the one before it, and that by the one before it." One could argue this, but, because the nature of dominoes is such that they do no set themselves in motion, you could have infinite upon infinite numbers of dominoes. One does not arrive at an explanation for their motion unless one appeals outside the chain. 

To put it another way, suppose I have a chain of mirrors all with the reflection of a bear in  them. The mirrors have no power in themselves to produce the image of the bear, no matter how long the chain. Therefore there must be a "principle of bearness" which actualizes the mirror's potential to reflect a bear. 


MOVING ON, God the unmoved mover.

Now, let us consider all entities. Every entity that we experience, has the potential for non existence. The atoms and the subatomic particles of said entity could have been arranged in another fashion, or simply not have existed at all. Their potential to exist however, was actualized by something actual, as we saw in premise two. 

So, when we ask, what actualizes this entities' potential for existence? We cannot appeal to an infinite regress because that carries no explanatory power, we must, as we saw, arrive at an "unmoved mover", or more specifically, an entity that has the "principle of existence" in itself. Or, as Thomas Aquinas phrased it, an entity who is "actus purus" or pure actuality, a being with no potential to actualize. A being with potential to actualize must have been actualized by a preceding actualizer, which, as we saw, does not answer the question. 


What does a being with no potentiality look like? A being with no potentiality to actualize is to say that such a being cannot change (immutable). However, any being in time is subject to change, so this being must exist outside of time (eternal). What does a being that is immutable look like? It is one that cannot have any change or damage done to it's nature, something which cannot be destroyed. \

A being that cannot be destroyed, and actualized everything that exists, exerts power over every created thing, but no created thing can exert power over it. Therefore this being is omnipotent. 

An eternal, omnipotent being is what we arrive at, by merely consider entities in the universe who have their potential's actualized. So, to recap.


1. There exist entities in the world who are in "motion" (their potential to exist is made actual by something else actual)

2. An infinite regress of actualizers carries with it no explanation for why any potential is actualized. 

3. An unactualized actualizer does however, because it has the principle of existence in itself, and was not actualized by anything prior, because it has no potentiality to actualize. It is pure actuality. 

4. A being that is pure actuality is, as we saw, eternal and omnipotent. We may call this being God. 

5. Therefore God exists. 
Con
  Thank you for this debate Soluminsanis

DEFINITIONS
-Agreed upon
1. Exist - to have objective being in reality.
2. God - an omnipotent, eternal being.
3. Motion - Actualization of potential. Change. (I think "change in a physical state" is a more accurate definition since that is what my opponent's examples describe.)

-Those my opponent neglected, which I will now supplement.
1. Reality - The state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them [1].
2. Being (used in two ways in this debate) - (1) mass noun; Existence. (2) noun; A real or imaginary living creature or entity, especially an intelligent one [2].
3. Objective - Not dependent on the mind for existence; actual [3].
4. Universe - All existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos (spacetime and its contents) [4].
5. Evidence - The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid [7].
6. Fact - A thing that is known or proved to be true [8].

BOP

  My opponent's stance on the resolution necessarily entails the burden of demonstrating how mere change in physical states is indicative of the existence of an omnipotent being that has objective existence in reality. This demand for objective existence in reality necessarily entails the burden of providing evidence of that objective nature. Otherwise, this claim may be dismissed as unfounded in any observable fact. Since the claim of putting the Universe into motion is necessarily a scientific claim about Cosmic Origins, it must also include some method of falsifying the claim, lest it be committed to the category of pseudoscience.

REBUTTALS

1. CLAIMS TO KNOW WHAT NOBODY KNOWS.

 In an attempt to meet this burden, my opponent has brought out one of the cosmological arguments. Specifically, a Thomistic argument. I would like to precede this series of rebuttals with a simple one: arguments =/= evidence. In order to address this particular Cosmological Argument, we will start with the core syllogism:

"1. There exist in the world entities in motion (i.e. things which have potentials actualized)

2. Whatever is in motion is set in motion by another. (i.e. whatever potential becomes actual is actualized by another, that "another" is something itself actual, as mere potential cannot actualize anything.)

3. An infinite regress of movers carries with it no explanatory power for how any entity was set in motion. Therefore this chain of movers must terminate with a prime mover, in other words, an entity with the principle of motion in itself. An unmoved mover, or, more specifically, an unactualized actualizer. "
  The first glaring problem is that this syllogism alone is not an argument for a god, only an unactualized actualizer at best. Even if we accept the premises, it makes no suggestions that this actualizer is a being, let alone omnipotent or eternal.

"A being that is pure actuality is, as we saw, eternal and omnipotent. We may call this being God."
  We could replace the word "god" with any other noun and it would be equally unconvincing as indicative of that actualizer's nature, qualities, or existence. One cannot simply define God to be the explanation and then assert he is the explanation without evidence.

   The current scientific understanding for the Universe as it exists is that it began expanding from a hot, dense state a few Billion years ago, and is expanding uniformly in all directions [5]. I'm assuming that for the purposes of this debate, my opponent does not dispute these well established facts of the universe. My opponent claims that this initial expansion was started by an omnipotent being, and that he calls this being "God."

   Now, my opponent's claim is that an "unactualized actualizer" started the initial expansion of the Universe. This is a claim that flies in the face of our current breadth of human knowledge, for the simple fact that nobody actually knows what started the initial expansion. Furthermore, his idea of causes and effects (actualizers and actualizations) is a temporal concept. Since time didn't exist before the initial expansion, my opponent must demonstrate how his temporal argument makes sense when time words don't necessarily mean anything. Essentially, asking what came before the initial expansion is like asking what is North of the North Pole: the question is meaningless. And unless my opponent can demonstrate that time existed before time existed, then his core concept is meaningless in the context of how he is applying it. Spatial-temporal concepts are necessarily within the scope of the Universe, and without space-time (the universe), these concepts are incoherent.

  Also, we cannot apply classical physics to the quantum realm, whose quantum laws would have dominated the Universe in its extremely hot, dense state. So the idea of dominoes needing a domino-pusher is incoherent in the quantum realm, where physics is not so intuitive. 

" One does not arrive at an explanation for their motion unless one appeals outside the chain. "
  The problem is that my opponent has not, and cannot demonstrate any precedent to suggest there is an "outside" the Universe. This is wholly conjectural and applies irrelevant concepts of cause and effect to a non-temporal realm. 

  This argument also refutes my opponent simply because, If god is outside the universe, then he does not have objective being in reality.

"To put it another way, suppose I have a chain of mirrors all with the reflection of a bear in  them. The mirrors have no power in themselves to produce the image of the bear, no matter how long the chain. Therefore there must be a "principle of bearness" which actualizes the mirror's potential to reflect a bear. "
  This is patently false. It is not the "principle of bearness" that is reflected in a mirror, it is whole bunch of photons [6]. Aquinas was not aware of the existence of photons, and so could not have known this. The ignorance of the Middle Ages of the nature of the world around us bleeds through the cracks of this argument. The mirror is simply a reflective medium, that bounces photons back, allowing for reflections.

2. VIOLATES THE LAWS OF PHYSICS.
" The atoms and the subatomic particles of said entity could have been arranged in another fashion, or simply not have existed at all. Their potential to exist however, was actualized by something actual, as we saw in premise two. "
  The universe can be thought of as a closed thermodynamic system. One way we know this, is that the second law of Thermodynamics is a linear process. It is the only law of physics that doesn't look the same in reverse as it does going forward; this gives us our dimension of linear time. If the universe was not a closed system, we could observe the entropy decreasing, and our flow of time would not necessarily be linear. But instead, entropy only increases in our universe, and this gives us a clear linearity to our temporal dimension.

  Since we established that the Universe is a closed thermodynamic system, then we may apply the first law as well: that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another [9]. In other words, the initial energy for all the matter in the Universe was already existent at the moment of initial expansion. Therefore, our atoms do not have the potential to not exist, they must necessarily always exist in some form of matter or energy. 

  At the crux of this contention, my opponent ignores models of the Universe that include matter and energy always existing. In the early Universe, the energy state would be so high that all the matter would be pure energy, and theoretically, any amount of energy can fit into any size. According to one model of the infinite universe [10], "Proper time ceases to be a useful concept for physical time if particles become massless." Which would have been the case in the state of the Universe we are discussing.

3. GOD OF THE GAPS FALLACY.

  Fundamentally, my opponent is claiming that the explanation for why things are moving at all, is god. I have demonstrated that the actual explanation of why the Universe started expanding is unknown. My opponent attempts to fill this gap with a "being" called "god". However, he has not provided evidence that this is the case. It clearly does not follow that a being started the Universe simply because objects change physical states. This is supplementing one unknown for another, and simply begs the question of the existence of the supernatural and how that would affect experimental results.

4. MISC. PROBLEM AND CONCLUSION
" A being with no potentiality to actualize is to say that such a being cannot change (immutable)"
  There is no difference between a being with no potentiality and a being that doesn't exist. Being unable to change, this being would be unable to make a decision to create the Universe. Furthermore, if it cannot change, then it is not omnipotent. 

  In conclusion, there is no need to invoke a being to explain why the Universe began expanding. This is a non-explanation, asserted without evidentiary backing, and is fallacious at every turn.
  




out of space
Round 2
Pro
Thank you so much sum1hug me, for your well thought out and reasoned responses. I accept the further definitions you have offered, and appreciate them as well. A quick word about the BoP. My opponent has used the phrase "arguments =/=  evidence." I do wonder though if this argument (A=/=E) is evidence for a his position (A=/=E) 

All facetiousness aside, I am quite afraid that my opponent has profoundly misunderstood my argument!

The first glaring problem is that this syllogism alone is not an argument for a god, only an unactualized actualizer at best. Even if we accept the premises, it makes no suggestions that this actualizer is a being, let alone omnipotent or eternal.
Now remember, if we retrace our steps, we came to the conclusion that any entity that does not have potentiality must be immutable and have the capability of exerting influence over all created things. My opponent must contend with these conclusions. It will not do to merely question them. 

IS THE UNACTUALIZED ACTUALIZER PERSONAL? 

My opponent raised a good objection. How do we know the UA A is personal? Quite simply, it must be. If the cause is sufficient to bring about the effect, yet the effect did not exist with it from all eternity (all potentials were not actualized from eternity, obviously) then, at some point, the effect was brought into being from the cause, that bringing the effect into being must have been the result of either 1. A change in the cause. 2. A choice by the cause. Since a being lacking potentiality cannot change, it must have been the latter. 


 The current scientific understanding for the Universe as it exists is that it began expanding from a hot, dense state a few Billion years ago, and is expanding uniformly in all directions [5]. I'm assuming that for the purposes of this debate, my opponent does not dispute these well established facts of the universe. My opponent claims that this initial expansion was started by an omnipotent being, and that he calls this being "God."

Goodness me! the argument simply doesn't deal with the specifics of big bang cosmology! I claimed nothing of the sort, and Aquinas himself knew nothing of an expanding universe.

 Now, my opponent's claim is that an "unactualized actualizer" started the initial expansion of the Universe. This is a claim that flies in the face of our current breadth of human knowledge, for the simple fact that nobody actually knows what started the initial expansion. Furthermore, his idea of causes and effects (actualizers and actualizations) is a temporal concept. Since time didn't exist before the initial expansion, my opponent must demonstrate how his temporal argument makes sense when time words don't necessarily mean anything. Essentially, asking what came before the initial expansion is like asking what is North of the North Pole: the question is meaningless. And unless my opponent can demonstrate that time existed before time existed, then his core concept is meaningless in the context of how he is applying it. Spatial-temporal concepts are necessarily within the scope of the Universe, and without space-time (the universe), these concepts are incoherent.
OK this is very important. 

My opponent has confused a linear series with a hierarchical series. A linear series is dependent on time. Example, I turn on my fan because I am hot, I am hot because the room is warm, the room is warm because the sun has beaten on it. This is a temporal succession. A hierarchical series is independent on time. Example, my ceiling fan is being held up by a chain. The chain is being held up by a rope, the rope by the roof, so on. In the latter series, time is not relevant, what is relevant is dependence. Each memebr of he series is dependent on a logically prior not a temporally prior member. Likewise with the argument. Entity A exists because of it's dependence on B, and B on C, so on. 

Again, the argument simply never touched on the expansion of the universe. 

This argument also refutes my opponent simply because, If god is outside the universe, then he does not have objective being in reality.
Gracious! What circularity! You have defined the universe as "all that exists" and then concluded that God cannot exist because He is "outside all that exists!" 

 This is patently false. It is not the "principle of bearness" that is reflected in a mirror, it is whole bunch of photons [6]. Aquinas was not aware of the existence of photons, and so could not have known this. The ignorance of the Middle Ages of the nature of the world around us bleeds through the cracks of this argument. The mirror is simply a reflective medium, that bounces photons back, allowing for reflections.
Physically, yes, photons are in view. We are not speaking strictly physically though. I am using the analogy metaphysically. By principle of bearness I mean the agent that the mirrors derive their reflections from. 

In other words, the initial energy for all the matter in the Universe was already existent at the moment of initial expansion. Therefore, our atoms do not have the potential to not exist, they must necessarily always exist in some form of matter or energy. 
Even going with this physical type of fatalism, (which I would disagree with strongly) the argument can still run through. 

1. The energy that existed in the singularity had the potential to exist as matter

2. That potential was actualized. 

3. Whatever is actualized is actualized by another, something already actual. 

4. An infinite regress cannot explain the actualization of any potential....so on

Even with an eternal universe, which Aquinas never argued against, we can still run the argument successfully. 

There is no difference between a being with no potentiality and a being that doesn't exist. Being unable to change, this being would be unable to make a decision to create the Universe. Furthermore, if it cannot change, then it is not omnipotent. 
Choosing to perform a creative act does not entail a change in essence or nature. Which is what is in view here. My opponent has merely asserted that there is no difference between a being with no potentiality, and a being that does not exist. My opponent has not provided any evidence for this claim. 


FINAL THOUGHTS.


Ultimately, my opponent has committed two major blunders in his response. Number one, he has simply appealed to ignorance, claiming he does not know what caused the expansion of the universe. He has rejected the sound metaphysical proof laid out in my opening case in favor or a generic agnosticism. Secondly, my opponent mistakenly misunderstood the argument as dealing with the expansion of the universe. In doing so, my opponent has not truly dealt with the argument or it's conclusion. 

Again, the argument is one from dependence. All transitions from potency to act require an actualizer, and this chain must terminate at something that itself was not actualized by anything temporally or logically prior. We saw what this being must look like, and the conclusion simply follows. 

I have provided a sound argument for why this actualizer must be personal, and I have pointed out the glaring circularity in my opponent's definition of the universe as all that exists. Furthermore, my opponent's strongest objection, the argument from the laws of thermodynamics, I have shown do not invalidate the Thomistic proof. 

I would like to say a huge thank you to sum1hugme, for the intelligent discussion. Thank you!
Con
  Thank you for your response. My opponent claims that I have misunderstood his argument, but I actually understand it quite well. Recall my opening, where I pointed out that this is a Cosmological Argument, specifically a Thomistic one. 

Cosmological Argument - An argument for the existence of God which claims that all things in nature depend on something else for their existence (i.e. are contingent), and that the whole cosmos must therefore itself depend on a being which exists independently or necessarily[1].

"Goodness me! the argument simply doesn't deal with the specifics of big bang cosmology! I claimed nothing of the sort, and Aquinas himself knew nothing of an expanding universe."
"...my opponent mistakenly misunderstood the argument as dealing with the expansion of the universe."
  Since my opponent's argument is based on the fact that physical states change, then we can extrapolate back to the original physical state, that would be the Universe in it's hot dense state. He argues for an "unmoved mover," and uses it interchangeably with an "unactualized actualizer," indicating they are the same claim.

  Since the first movement in the chain of events going back to the dawn of time would be the initial expansion of the Universe, then it is necessarily the claim of my opponent that a "being" initiated that expansion, and he calls this being God. 

THE BURDEN

  My opponent has failed to meet his burden, as there has been presented no evidence that the first movement was caused by a "being." Furthermore, my opponent has provided no method of falsifying his claim, indicating it is probably pseudoscience.

DROPPED 

  My opponent has dropped that his proposal violates the laws of thermodynamics, and that he is injecting god into the gaps in our knowledge.

__________

COUNTER-REBUTTALS

1. Lack of Evidence
"A hierarchical series is independent on time. Example, my ceiling fan is being held up by a chain. The chain is being held up by a rope, the rope by the roof, so on. In the latter series, time is not relevant, what is relevant is dependence."
  An important objection to raise is that there is precedent that ceiling fans need support to hang on the ceiling, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Universe was caused by a "being." Again, my opponent has provided no evidence that the Universe is dependent on its existence in the same way a ceiling fan is dependent on its ability to hang from a ceiling. 

2. Cause and Effect
"If the cause is sufficient to bring about the effect, yet the effect did not exist with it from all eternity (all potentials were not actualized from eternity, obviously) then, at some point, the effect was brought into being from the cause, that bringing the effect into being must have been the result of either 1. A change in the cause. 2. A choice by the cause. Since a being lacking potentiality cannot change, it must have been the latter. "
  My opponent has ignored the model of an eternal Universe I provided in my opening. If the matter and energy existed for eternity, then my opponent's argument fails immediately. Further, he drops the idea that his notion of macro-physical cause and effect fails to hold meaning in the context he is applying it. To quote the paper from last round "Proper time ceases to be a useful concept for physical time if particles become massless.[2]"

3. Laws of Physics

  If we recall, it was established that the Universe is a closed system, because it adheres to a unidirectional entropic cycle. To suggest that there is an outside "being," influencing the physical changes of the Universe is to suggest that the Universe could decrease it's overall entropy. This is not what we observe, rather that entropy only increases. This "being" is not observed, and can be dismissed as wholly conjectural. Therefore, my opponent's proposal of a "being" that actualizes things in the Universe runs counter to the observed nature of the Universe. 

4. Begging the Question
"Gracious! What circularity! You have defined the universe as "all that exists" and then concluded that God cannot exist because He is "outside all that exists!" "
  My opponent drops the fact that he has established no precedent to suggest that there is an "outside" the Universe. I simply pointed out that my opponent cannot claim that god Is both objective in reality and outside the Universe. This necessarily begs the question of the existence of the supernatural.

5. Metaphysics
"Physically, yes, photons are in view. We are not speaking strictly physically though. I am using the analogy metaphysically. By principle of bearness I mean the agent that the mirrors derive their reflections from. "
  Unless my opponent is using another definition, I will provide one here [3]:

Metaphysics -
1 - The branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, identity, time, and space.
1.1 - Abstract theory with no basis in reality

  My opponent's ill-defined principle of bearness is nothing more than the Bear itself. In order for photons to reflect light in a mirror to look like a bear, then a bear or bear shaped object must be put in front of the mirror with a light source nearby to provide photons to reflect. There is nothing nonphysical about the process. For this reason, the analogy fails.

6. Failed Syllogism
"1. The energy that existed in the singularity had the potential to exist as matter

2. That potential was actualized. 

3. Whatever is actualized is actualized by another, something already actual. 

4. An infinite regress cannot explain the actualization of any potential....so on

Even with an eternal universe, which Aquinas never argued against, we can still run the argument successfully. "
  An infinite regress is not necessary and is not part of an eternal Universe model. In the hot, dense Universe the time dimension did not exist, and there is no infinite causal regress being invoked because time did not exist. A being is not necessary to explain why the Universe changed its initial state; and to claim it was a "being" is nothing more than conjecture.

7.  Self Contradicting
"Choosing to perform a creative act does not entail a change in essence or nature. Which is what is in view here. My opponent has merely asserted that there is no difference between a being with no potentiality, and a being that does not exist. My opponent has not provided any evidence for this claim. "
  It's ironic that my opponent demands evidence, while relying on metaphysical argumentation to assert things about reality. I invite my opponent to explain how we could tell the difference between a being with no potentiality and a being that simply doesn't exist, they have the same amount of evidence. 

  Also, my opponent did not specify that a change in "essence" or "nature" had to be in order for change to occur. Consider it this way: by my opponent's logic, God had the potential to create a Universe; then he actualized this potential. This constitutes a change, which would mean god is not unchanging. In this way my opponent contradicts himself.

8. Misc. Rebuttals
"Number one, he has simply appealed to ignorance, claiming he does not know what caused the expansion of the universe. He has rejected the sound metaphysical proof laid out in my opening case in favor or a generic agnosticism."
  I am appealing to the fact that my opponent is plugging our ignorance with god, which is fallacious. It substitutes one unknown for another.

  My opponent's argument is neither "sound" nor "proof." It ignores models of the eternal Universe, it is a god of the gaps fallacy, it has zero evidentiary backing, and zero precedent.

"All transitions from potency to act require an actualizer, and this chain must terminate at something that itself was not actualized by anything temporally or logically prior. "
  This chain terminates with an eternal Universe. No "being" or UAA necessary, and there is no evidence for one.

CONCLUSION

  In conclusion, my opponent has provided absolutely no evidence for his conclusion. He ignores the fact that an eternal Universe doesn't require an actualizer. His ideas of cause and effects are not applicable. His argument from dependency fails because there is no evidence that the Universe is dependent in the way he suggests. His argument violates our observations of the Universe's entropic cycle, and his conclusion begs the question. Additionally, his demand for an unchanging actualizer is self-contradictory. My opponent has created a wholly conjectural argument that is fundamentally fallacious, and patently wrong in its understanding of how physical reality operates. 






Round 3
Pro
Forfeited
Con
  Unfortunately, in the two weeks preceding, my opponent has elected not to respond. 

  Extend all arguments. 

Vote Con!