Instigator / Pro
7
1527
rating
14
debates
39.29%
won
Topic
#3496

Does God exist?

Status
Finished

The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
3
0
Better sources
2
2
Better legibility
1
1
Better conduct
1
1

After 1 vote and with 3 points ahead, the winner is...

christianm
Parameters
Publication date
Last updated date
Type
Standard
Number of rounds
4
Time for argument
Two days
Max argument characters
10,000
Voting period
One month
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Open
Contender / Con
4
1700
rating
544
debates
68.01%
won
Description

In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. This debate will question whether such a being exists.

Round 1
Pro
#1
I would like to thank my opponent for agreeing to debate such a complex topic. In my opening, I will focus on two arguments for a higher being.

1. Kalam cosmological argument

The Kalam cosmological argument focuses on causation and requires only the belief that the universe didn't magically pop into existence from nothing. In logical terms, the argument is stated as follows [1]:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The Universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the Universe has a cause.
The first premise is nearly indisputable by any understanding of modern physics. We do not worry, for example, that some wild beast will suddenly appear and tear us limb from limb. The idea that every event has a cause is an essential premise of solving crimes, in which detectives often narrow down the possible causes of someone's death.

One common counterargument, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of quantum physics, is that some small particles indeed pop into existence from nothing. Quantum fluctuations do indeed exist, but they are hardly uncaused. Rather, particles that seem to "appear" and "disappear" emerge from the quantum vacuum. The quantum vacuum state can hardly be called "nothing." It is simply the quantum state with the lowest possible energy [2].

As Columbia University Philosophy Professor and theoretical physicist David Albert writes [3].

[V]acuum state—no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems—are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff . . . the fact that particles can pop in and out of existence, over time, as those [quantum] fields rearrange themselves, is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that fists can pop in and out of existence, over time, as my fingers rearrange themselves. And none of these poppings — if you look at them aright — amount to anything even remotely in the neighborhood of a creation from nothing.
Furthermore, these "poppings" are predictable. Formulas can be used [4] to predict the number of fluctuations, and if they were simply "uncaused" they would not abide by simple formulas. Furthermore, this property only applies to certain types of particles and energy. Molecules cannot pop in and out of existence. None of this is consistent with the idea that something can exist uncaused, but it is consistent with the quantum vacuum acting as a catalyst for some events but not others.

That the universe began to exist is also the inevitable conclusion of many years of scientific research. The Big Bang theory holds that the universe, including time and space, began to exist 13.8 billion years ago [5]. Although the Big Bang remains the prevailing theory regarding the origin of the universe, some physicists dispute this narrative of events and argue that the universe has existed forever.

But scientific analysis shows that the universe almost certainly had a beginning [6]. Edwin Hubble found, for example, that the further an object is from the earth, the faster it is moving away from the earth. This discovery indicates that the universe is expanding from a single point. Furthermore, we can observe background radiation, or leftover heat radiation, from the Big Bang. Cosmologists have discovered "background radiation" consistent with an expansion of the universe beginning 13.8 billion years ago.

According to the University of Western Australia:

The cosmic microwave background radiation(CMBR) that Penzias and Wilson observed isleftover heat radiation from the Big Bang. Today, CMBR is very cold due to expansion and cooling of theUniverse. It’s only 2.725 Kelvin (-270.4 °C), which is only 2.725 °C above absolute zero.Cosmic microwave background radiation fills the entire Universe and can be detected day and night in every partof the sky
Therefore, it seems almost indisputable that something caused the universe. And we can conclude several things about this cause. For one, it must be an uncaused being of unimaginable power to have created the universe. This being must transcend space and time, as it created both. It must be immaterial and not physical. And finally, this being must to some extent be capable of free will. For a being outside of time to cause an event that occurred a finite time ago, it must be capable of deciding to create the universe at a certain point in time.

As philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig argues [7]:

The only way for the cause to be timeless and for the effect to begin a finite time ago is for the cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to create a new effect without any prior determining conditions. For example, a man sitting from eternity could freely will to stand up and thus you would have a new effect arise from an eternal cause
These criteria establish that the universe's creator meets the common definition of God. God must exist, therefore, as evidenced by the creation of the universe.

2. Argument from design

It has also been determined, from a wide range of scientific evidence, that the universe is fine-tuned for life [8] [9]. The strength of gravity, for example, must fit into an extremely small, unlikely range of values in order for stars to form. The existence of carbon atoms and the stability of DNA are similarly based on extremely improbable values for universal constants.

As Steven Weinberg, a Nobel Laureate in Physics, writes:

how surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values.
Some skeptics, even one linked in the sources above, argue that the possibility of a multiverse answers this question. The idea is that our universe is one of many in which physical constants just happen to meet the criteria necessary for life.

However, Roger Penrose, a mathematician, has calculated that if a multiverse did exist, it would be extremely more likely that our solar system would be formed by a random collision of particles than that a finely tuned universe would exist. If we were part of a multiverse, therefore, it stands to reason that we wouldn't be observing any solar systems beyond our own.

In The Road to Reality, Penrose states [10]:
Life on Earth certainly does not directly need themicrowave background radiation. In fact, we do not even need Darwinianevolution! It would have been far ‘cheaper’ in terms of ‘probabilities’ tohave produced sentient life from the random coming together of gas andradiation. (One can estimate that the entire solar system, including itsliving inhabitants, could be created from the random collision of particlesand radiation with a probability of one part in 10^(10^60) (or probably a gooddeal less than 10^(10^60)). The figure 10^(10^60) is utter ‘chicken feed’ by comparisonwith the 10^(10^123) needed for the Big Bang of the observable universe. Wedo not need a Big Bang to be in its observed uniform configuration.
The only explanation for such an unlikely event is intelligent design. Again, we are left with a being of unimaginable power that exists outside the universe. This being must also be capable of free will, in order to design the universe with intelligent life in mind.
Con
#2
I wish to create 2 traps simple traps, let's not waste your time or mine.

The traps are BoP pincers, you run from one and end up trapped by the other.

I ask that Pro concede Round 2 and the debate to save us all time and effort. 

Anti-Kalam Trap


Pincer 1: If Pro justifies the universe and our reality as having a beginning rather than having always existed, Pro ought to equally consider the same physicists backing the big bang theory and secular/agnostic takes on the origins of physical spacetime and matter.

Pincer 2: If Pro drops Pincer 1 by conceding that the universe and reality may actually have always existed, Pro's Kalam argument is then applicable to God, generating a paradoxical infinite regression in necessitating a creator.



Quantum Randomness vs Patterns trap.

Pincer 1: If the idea behind Pro's logic is that the randomness is an illusion and in fact it runs on complex algorithms, what is the purpose of the quantum particles in the first place popping in and out of existence if there is a God designing us? I am asking Pro to realise that in a truly structured, intelligently designed reality, there exists absolutely zero conceivable purpose to have particles coming in and out of existence, since the organiser and creator need only make and transform the end product, not fluctuate the core level.

Pincer 2: The proposed God itself is not random, in fact everything about the allegedly existent God appears to imply that if consistency and severely consistent patterns in our reality necessitate a God, Pro's own God requires a God to have created him/her/them/it.


Please note Pro is yet to define God in a falsifiable manner, this means I cannot prove it wrong as it is not defined how we would prove its existence true and correct.
Round 2
Pro
#3
Thanks to my opponent for his response.

God was defined in the description of this debate as "the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith". An object of faith is something that people have a religious devotion to, but this is not an objective property of a being. If a supreme being and creator does exist, it's clear that they are the object of many people's faith, so the third criterion is fulfilled de-facto from the first two.

I suggest that we define a supreme being and creator as a being capable of controlling the universe. Surely a being capable of creating the universe is capable of controlling it, and it is this being that I argued for in my opening.

Now I will focus on the two objections to my argument. The Anti-Kalam trap forces me to choose between the universe having always existed or having a beginning. In my opening, I showed that the universe does have a beginning, which nullifies Pincer 2.

Pincer 1 is effectively an appeal to authority. My opponent argues that some scientists accept a beginning to the universe but don't accept the existence of a creator, suggesting that one conclusion does not necessarily lead to the other. If we're going to appeal to authority, we could just as easily say that some philosophers believe that one conclusion does lead to the other: namely, those who accept Kalam.

Whether a beginning to the universe proves a creator is the subject of debate: specifically, the debate we're having. Many scientists who believe in a beginning to the universe but not a creator have not studied the Kalam. Regardless of what these scientists believe, my opening has shown how a beginning to the universe does prove a creator. If my opponent wishes to argue against this premise using arguments from the physicists they are appealing to, they are welcome to do so.

My opponent's second pincer trap deals with quantum randomness.

Pincer 1 asks why God would cause quantum fluctuations. This is more of a question than an objection. While I can only speculate as to the motives of a supreme being, I would like to point out that everything is made of atoms, which rely on electrons. Perhaps quantum fluctuations are a necessary property of electrons. Light is divided into small packets called "photons" [1], and these photons may be necessary to construct matter. It stands to reason that a being capable of creating the universe and with an interest in human life would be a creative being capable of knitting together each detail of the universe. Quantum fluctuations, rather than being an objection to a creator, rather serve to show the creativity and attention to detail such a creator would have.

Pincer 2 asks whether or not God is random. I personally believe that God is capable of free will, but my personal beliefs are not the subject of this debate. As I read it a second time, I'm not sure whether it objects to the Kalam or the argument from design. The Kalam argues that everything with a beginning has a cause, and so far I have argued for a God that exists outside of time. The argument from design states that very specific values are required for constants such that life can exist. These constants have not been shown to require specific values for God to exist.

My opponent states:
everything about the allegedly existent God appears to imply that if consistency and severely consistent patterns in our reality necessitate a God, Pro's own God requires a God to have created him/her/them/it.
"Severely consistent patterns" is a vague term, and I'm not entirely sure what my opponent is referring to, but I will attempt to clarify my position. The gravitational constant must be a very specific value to allow that the universe exist. This specific value is not required for God to exist. Therefore, my argument as stated in the introduction does not necessitate that God was himself designed by a higher being.

Con
#4
I reject Pro's definition scope wholesale.

The resolution said God as a proper noun, meaning a specific individual of a specific religion.


God has to be defined as one religion's God so that I can critique further and so that Pro can prove it exists.


If Pro solely means a creator, no other aspects attached this is not God, that is just a being that shares the creative ability with God.

Absolutely nothing necessitates a creator in our reality that cannot be applied to God itself.

If God is the original, supreme creator, it cannot be viable to say it was created itself in an infinite regression.

We have no reasons to believe God exists that do not themselves undermine God's supreme viability.
Round 3
Pro
#5
The resolution said God as a proper noun, meaning a specific individual of a specific religion.
The description states, "In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. This debate will question whether such a being exists." Con has accepted this definition by participating in the debate.

Muslims believe in God. Jews believe in God. Deists believe in God. The resolution does not specify any particular religion; it only asks whether God exists. J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, and Neils Bohr each believe in atoms even though they held different views regarding them [1].

Con states:
God has to be defined as one religion's God so that I can critique further and so that Pro can prove it exists.
This is false. Deists believe in God but don't adhere to any particular religion [2].

CON lists three additional objections. I will deal with each of them.

(1) If Pro solely means a creator, no other aspects attached this is not God, that is just a being that shares the creative ability with God.

Any being capable of creating and controlling the universe meets this debate's definition of God. God is defined by his creative abilities, so a being that shares creative abilities with God would meet this debate's definition of one.

(2) Absolutely nothing necessitates a creator in our reality that cannot be applied to God itself.

Except for the argument from design and Kalam. God doesn't have a beginning, so he doesn't need a cause. He also doesn't rely on extremely unlikely values of universal constants.

(3) If God is the original, supreme creator, it cannot be viable to say it was created itself in an infinite regression.

I never suggested that God was created in infinite regression.

CON appears to have dropped both pincer arguments for the time being. There have also been no further attempts to dismantle the Kalam or argument from design.
Con
#6
No. This debate does not say 'does a god exist' it says does God exist.

One issue which seems to cause some consternation between atheists and theists involves disagreement over how to spell the word "god"—should it be capitalized or not? Which is correct, god or God? Many atheists frequently spell it with a lowercase 'g' while theists, particularly those who come from a monotheistic religious tradition like JudaismChristianityIslam, or Sikhism, always capitalize the 'G'. Who is right?

For theists, the issue can be a sore point because they are certain that it is grammatically incorrect to spell the word as 'god,' thus leading them to wonder if atheists are simply ignorant about good grammar—or, more likely, are deliberately trying to insult them and their beliefs. After all, what could possibly motivate a person to misspell such a simple word which is used so frequently? It's not like they break grammar rules as a matter of course, so some other psychological purpose must be the cause. Indeed, it would be rather juvenile to misspell simply in order to insult theists.

If such an atheist had so little respect for another person, though, why even waste the time writing to them in the first place, much less deliberately trying to hurt them at the same time? While that may actually be the case with some atheists who write the word 'god' with a lowercase 'g,' it isn't the normal reason why atheists spell the word in this manner.

When Not to Capitalize God
To understand why we need only observe the fact Christians don't capitalize the 'g' and write about the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Is that an attempt to insult and denigrate those polytheistic beliefs? Of course not—it's grammatically correct to use a lowercase 'g' and write 'gods and goddesses'.

The reason is that in such cases we are talking about members of a general class or category —specifically, members of a group which gets the label 'gods' because people have, at one time or another, worshipped its members as gods. Anytime we are referring to the fact that some being or alleged being is a member of this class, it is grammatically appropriate to use a lowercase 'g' but inappropriate to use an uppercase 'G'—just as it would be inappropriate to write about Apples or Cats.

The same holds true if we are writing very generally about Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Sikh beliefs. It is appropriate to say that Christians believe in a god, that Jews believe in a single god, that Muslims pray every Friday to their god, and that Sikhs worship their god. There is absolutely no reason, grammatical or otherwise, to capitalize 'god' in any of those sentences.

When to Capitalize God
On the other hand, if we are referring to the specific god-concept that a group worships, then it may be appropriate to use capitalization. We can say that Christians are supposed to follow what their god wants them to do, or we can say that Christians are supposed to follow what God wants them to do. Either works, but we capitalize God in the latter sentence because we are essentially using it as a proper name—just as if we were talking about Apollo, Mercury, or Odin.

Confusion is caused by the fact that Christians don't typically ascribe a personal name to their god—some use Yahweh or Jehovah, but that is pretty rare. The name they use happens to be the same as the general term for the class that being belongs to. It's not unlike a person who has named their cat, Cat. In such a situation, there could be some confusion at times as to when the word should be capitalized and when it shouldn't. The rules themselves may be clear, but their application might not be.

Christians are accustomed to using God because they always reference it in a personal manner—they say that "God has spoken to me," not that "my god has spoken to me." Thus, they and other monotheists might be taken aback at finding people who don't privilege their particular god concept and so reference it in a general manner, just as they do with everyone else's god. It's important to remember in such cases that it is not an insult simply to not be privileged.

Even if we let this slide and say that Pro meant 'a god', the religions Pro are saying are equally true or untrue believe in gods that prove all the other gods wrong.

"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me" (Hebrew: לא יהיה־לך אלהים אחרים על־פני) is one, or part of one depending on the numbering tradition used, of the Ten Commandments found in the Hebrew Bible at Exodus 20:2 and Deuteronomy 5:6

Exodus 20:2-6 ESV / 275 helpful votes “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

There also is a major, gaping plothole in terms of the Judeo-Christian god's storyline... Is he the god of Jews and didn't see Christianity coming despite his omniscience or is he the god of Christians and was misleading us the whole time to Judaism in the days of the Torah and Old Testament?

Nothing about this god appears to be viable or push for existence.

In fact, Pro is basically saying that gods that deny each other's very existence and right to be respected and worshipped are all the 'god' that Pro purports to exist, which is absurd.

“Verily, those whom you call upon besides Allaah are slaves like you. So call upon them and let them answer you if you are truthful.
Have they feet wherewith they walk? Or have they hands wherewith they hold? Or have they eyes wherewith they see? Or have they ears wherewith they hear?”
[Quran Chapter: 7, The Elevations, verse: 194–195]
“So do not be in doubt, [O Muhammad], as to what these [polytheists] are worshipping. They worship not except as their fathers worshipped before. And indeed, We will give them their share undiminished.”
[Quran 11:109]
“Are many different lords (gods) better or Allaah, the One, the Irresistible?”
[Quran 11:39]
“Say (O Muhammad): Praise and thanks be to Allaah, and peace be on His slaves whom He has chosen (for His Message)! Is Allaah better, or (all) that you ascribe as partners (to Him)?” (Of course, Allaah is Better).
Is not He (better than your gods) Who created the heavens and the earth, and sends down for you water (rain) from the sky, whereby We cause to grow wonderful gardens full of beauty and delight? It is not in your ability to cause the growth of their trees. Is there any ilaah (god) with Allaah? Nay, but they are a people who ascribe equals (to Him)!
Is not He (better than your gods) Who has made the earth as a fixed abode, and has placed rivers in its midst, and has placed firm mountains therein, and has set a barrier between
the two seas (of salt and sweet water)? Is there any ilaah (god) with Allaah? Nay, but most of them know not!

Is not He (better than your gods) Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls on Him, and Who removes the evil, and makes you inheritors of the earth, generations after generations? Is there any ilaah (god) with Allaah? Little is that you remember!

Is not He (better than your gods) Who guides you in the darkness of the land and the sea, and Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His Mercy (rain)? Is there any ilaah (god) with Allaah? High Exalted be Allaah above all that they associate as partners (to Him)!

Is not He (better than your so‑called gods) Who originates creation, and shall thereafter repeat it, and Who provides for you from heaven and earth? Is there any ilaah (god) with Allaah? Say: ‘Bring forth your proofs, if you are truthful’”
[Quran Chapter: 27, The Ant, verse:59–64]
“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘How do you worship besides Allaah something which has no power either to harm or benefit you? But it is Allaah Who is the All‑Hearer, All‑Knower”
[Quran Chapter: 5, The Table, verse: 76]
“And your Lord creates and chooses whom He pleases; to choose is not theirs; glory be to Allah, and exalted be He above what they associate (with Him).”
[Quran, Chapter: 28, The History, verse: 68]
“Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind”
[Quran, Chapter: 22, The Pilgrimage, verse: 46]
Round 4
Pro
#7
No. This debate does not say 'does a god exist' it says does God exist.
It also doesn't specify a religion. Deists can say they "believe in God" (capitalized) and it would be correct [1].

LearnReligions.com states:
Deists hold that after the motions of the universe were set in place, God retreated and had no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it.
The article goes back and forth between 

According to Merriam Webster, God means [2]:

the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped (as in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism) as creator and ruler of the universe
Stating belief in God does not specify adherence to any particular religion.

Con admits that capitalizing God is a matter of style, not based on a difference in definition.

Even if we let this slide and say that Pro meant 'a god', the religions Pro are saying are equally true or untrue believe in gods that prove all the other gods wrong.
One of them could be true, or none could be and Deism could be correct. That's not the subject of this debate. This debate is about whether God exists, not about any particular religion.

The question of whether God exists simply asks if there is a supreme supernatural or preternatural being [3].

existence of God, in religion, the proposition that there is a supreme supernatural or preternatural being that is the creator or sustainer or ruler of the universe and all things in it, including human beings.
Even polytheism would not contradict this definition, as among multiple deities, one would still meet the definition of "God." Since solar systems and planets are resultant from the Big Bang [4], whichever God caused the Big Bang is the God referenced in this debate.

This debate states that "In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith," but clearly such a being (among other helpers) would exist under polytheism as well.

Conclusion

Here are the arguments Con has dropped:
- Kalam
- Argument from Design
- Both Pincer arguments

Finally, since Con is here to argue that God doesn't exist (the opposite of the affirmative case), it makes little sense that they would accept this debate without some idea of what God they are arguing against.
Con
#8
Here are the arguments Con has dropped:
- Kalam
- Argument from Design
- Both Pincer arguments
I did not drop anything.

Both angles that Pro says necessitate God do not do so whatsoever and Pro has failed to define god in a way that doesn't lead to one religion's god proving all other religions' gods false simultaneously.

Religions don't all add to God's reliability, they decrease it as each denies the existence of the other gods.