Does God Exist?
The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.
After 3 votes and with 6 points ahead, the winner is...
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Resolved: It is probable that God exists.
4. Closing arguments/clash
For the purposes of this debate, the term "God" will be defined broadly as to include the general 4'Os (omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being) who is the source of creation.) That is to say, I am not referring to any specific deity. Hence religious texts and religious doctrines are irrelevant to the debate. .
The time limit between replies is 72 hours. 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. It is incumbent on me to show that God's existence is probable, and it is incumbent on my opponent to show that God's existence is not probable. It is thus not enough to simply refute my arguments. My opponent must also erect his own case against the probability of God's existence.
To say that some entity exists in a possible world is just to say that such an entity possibly exists. It isn’t meant that the entity actually exists somewhere. Look again at my explanation: “To say that God exists in some possible world is just to say that there is a possible description of reality which includes the statement ‘God exists’ as part of that description.” Only if that description is true will the entity, in this case God, actually exist. So (2) is definitionally true.Again, (3) is virtually definitionally true. A maximally great being is one that has, among other properties, necessary existence. So if it exists in one world, it exists in all of them! In that sense, such a being is different than contingent beings, which exist in only some possible worlds. A unicorn, for example, exists in some possible world, but not in all of them, for its existence is possible but not necessary. So your prof is right that there is something special, not about a maximally excellentbeing (which, you’ll recall, is defined to be a being which is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good), but about a maximally great being, which is defined as a being which has maximal excellence in every possible world. If such a being exists in any world, that is to say, if it is possible that such a being exists, then it exists in every possible world, including the actual world.
The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago. The beginning of real time, would have been a singularity, at which the laws of physics would have broken down. Nevertheless, the way the universe began would have been determined by the laws of physics, if the universe satisfied the no boundary condition. This says that in the imaginary time direction, space-time is finite in extent, but doesn't have any boundary or edge. The predictions of the no boundary proposal seem to agree with observation. The no boundary hypothesis also predicts that the universe will eventually collapse again. However, the contracting phase, will not have the opposite arrow of time, to the expanding phase. So we will keep on getting older, and we won't return to our youth. Because time is not going to go backwards, I think I better stop now.
"A duty is something that is owed... But something can be owed only to some person or persons. There can be no such thing as a duty in isolation.... the concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain but their meaning is gone."
- The world is all that is the case.
- What is the case—a fact—is the existence of states of affairs
- A logical picture of facts is a thought.
- A thought is a proposition with sense.
- A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions. (An elementary proposition is a truth function of itself.)
- The general form of a truth-function is [p,ξ, N (ξ)]
- What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.
- Discussions like this perpetuate a false delusion that the question of God's existence is answerable. Delusions interfere with our ability to think and perceive rationally and should therefore be rejected.
- Failing to recognize the possibility of that the question of God's existence is unanswerable contributes to wasted time and effort, as people like my opponent and theist and atheist scholars alike sink their lives into debates like this when their efforts could be more productive elsewhere.
- Debate as an activity should be rooted in sensical topics; debate, as an exercise of rational thought, should celebrate rational, sensical arguments. Topics like this, precisely because they are nonsensical, are problematic.
- Omniscient means "possessed of universal or complete knowledge"
- Omnipresent means "present in all places at all times"
- Omnipotent means "almighty: having absolute power over all"
- Omnibenevolent means "possessing perfect or unlimited goodness."
1. The K
Con brings an interesting K to the argument. I contend that both the Theistic and Atheistic viewpoints make several predictions about how the world should look like. If Atheism is true, then this is what it should look like; and if Theism is true, this is what it should look like. The Atheist view point, for example, would say that evil is incompatible with Theism and the Theist would say, for example, that objective moral facts can only exist in a Theist-centered world.
The first argument I brought up, the ontological argument, is an a priori proof of God's existence while the KCA and moral argument are an a posteriori proof of God's existence.
I propose that we can know God's existence through both pure logic and through empirical evidence.
II. The 4 O's
A. God Cannot be Omniscient
The Ethics of Our Fathers states: "Everything is foreseen, and freewill is given, and with goodness the world is judged. And all is in accordance to the majority of the deed." (1)
The contradiction is only apparent. God does not know our future as future. He knows our future actions in all their actuality/being (including their temporal modes of existence) in their presentiality. In other words, God knows our future actions as I know Socrates is sitting before me. My knowledge of Socrates sitting before me is infallible, and yet Socrates is not determined to be sitting. He is still free to sit or stand.
Free will is granted to all men. If one desires to turn himself to the path of good and be righteous, the choice is his. Should he desire to turn to the path of evil and be wicked, the choice is his.This is [the intent of] the Torah's statement (Genesis 3:22): "Behold, man has become unique as ourselves, knowing good and evil," i.e., the human species became singular in the world with no other species resembling it in the following quality: that man can, on his own initiative, with his knowledge and thought, know good and evil, and do what he desires. There is no one who can prevent him from doing good or bad. Accordingly, [there was a need to drive him from the Garden of Eden,] "lest he stretch out his hand [and take from the tree of life]."Were God to decree that an individual would be righteous or wicked or that there would be a quality which draws a person by his essential nature to any particular path [of behavior], way of thinking, attributes, or deeds, as imagined by many of the fools [who believe] in astrology - how could He command us through [the words of] the prophets: "Do this," "Do not do this," "Improve your behavior," or "Do not follow after your wickedness?"[According to their mistaken conception,] from the beginning of man's creation, it would be decreed upon him, or his nature would draw him, to a particular quality and he could not depart from it.One might ask: Since The Holy One, blessed be He, knows everything that will occur before it comes to pass, does He or does He not know whether a person will be righteous or wicked?If He knows that he will be righteous, [it appears] impossible for him not to be righteous. However, if one would say that despite His knowledge that he would be righteous, it is possible for him to be wicked, then His knowledge would be incomplete.Know that the resolution to this question [can be described as]: "Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea." Many great and fundamental principles and lofty concepts are dependent upon it. However, the statements that I will make must be known and understood [as a basis for the comprehension of this matter].
Human knowledge cannot comprehend this concept in its entirety for just as it is beyond the potential of man to comprehend and conceive the essential nature of the Creator, as [Exodus 33:20] states: "No man will perceive, Me and live," so, too, it is beyond man's potential to comprehend and conceive the Creator's knowledge. This was the intent of the prophet's [Isaiah 55:8] statements: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways, My ways."Accordingly, we do not have the potential to conceive how The Holy One, blessed be He, knows all the creations and their deeds. However, this is known without any doubt: That man's actions are in his [own] hands and The Holy One, blessed be He, does not lead him [in a particular direction] or decree that he do anything.
Con completely misunderstands what we mean when philosophers say that God is Omnipotent. God is bound by his own nature and cannot do the illogical. For example, God cannot make a square triangle because it violates the nature of what a square is. Similarly if we define God as omnibenevolent, it follows that he cannot do evil. Rabbi Mandel sums this up nicely (4):
As we see, there are many things God cannot do, many "limitations" He cannot bring upon Himself. But this is because these "limitations" are not really limitations at all, but rather the necessary result of being unlimited.In other words, the resolution of the omnipotence paradox is that God's inability to make Himself finite is not a lack or flaw on His part at all. This limitation is not testimony to His imperfection. On the contrary, it is actually the ultimate expression of His perfection."The greatness of an infinite, unlimited being is that He can never lose His unlimited nature. God can never go against logic and make a round triangle, expend too much energy and become tired, nor compromise His perfect memory and forget things. God can never become bound by finite terms. It is an error to view this inability as a limitation that reflects a weakness on God's part. It is really the exact opposite. What makes God so infinitely powerful is that He cannot do the things we mortals can do.85 It is only because of our finitude – our natural weakness and restrictions – that we experience limitations such as sickness, depression, immortality, or the inability to lift a heavy rock. For the Infinite One, however, His all-powerful nature simply does not allow for such weaknesses.
For con to make this argument he must concede to premise 2 in the moral argument. So what exactly is evil? First we must understand that evil is a necessity of free will. If I can choose only good, then I have no free will.
Maimonades, one of the most influential Jewish philosophers, proposed that there are three types of evil: (1) Evil that we do to ourselves; (2) Evil that we do to others; and (3) Natural evils like hurricanes and earth quakes. The first one
Con's argument assumes an infinite regress, something that is both philosophically and scientifically impossible. There cannot be an infinite regress of physical causes. This is like saying "the world is standing on turtles - all the way down." It's logically and physically impossible. Similarly to say "the universe was created by quantum fluctuations - all the way back." It's impossible.
Second, we know form the KCA that the universe had to have an absolute beginning. If the universe as we know it was infinite in age, as con's argument suggests, then the universe would be out of useable energy and would be in a state of a death heat. Since we are not in that stage right now, we can reasonably conclude the universe is not infinite in age.
1. Perkie Avot 3:15
4. Rambam "Guide to the Perplexed."
- It is not possible that a maximally great being exists.
- If it is not possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in no possible world.
- If a maximally great being exists in no possible world, then it does not exist in the actual world.
- If a maximally great being does not exist in the actual world, then a maximally great being does not exist.
- Therefore, a maximally great being does not exist.
I. Problem of Evil
I have a few responses. First, in order to make this claim, con has to concede that there are objective moral facts in this world. Second, evil is a necessary component of free will. If evil does not exist, then free will cannot exist. If we cannot choose to be evil, then we cannot choose to be good. Thirdly, who is to say that God does not stop certain evils? If God stopped the evil before it occurred, then we obviously do not know about it.
Fourthly, the RAMBAM wrote that there are three types of evil. (1) Evil we do to ourselves. A smoker shouldn't be surprised when they end up with lung cancer and a drunkard shouldn't be surprised when they end up with liver failure. (2) Evil we do to others. Because we have free will and can choose to do evil, we can unfortunately choose to do highly immoral acts like commit genocide. Finally, 3) Natural evils like earthquakes and hurricanes. (1)
Fifthly, RAMBAM postulates that suffering can also be a result of punishment. If God is good then he must punish evil. Suffering and evil cause us to look in ourselves and repent and do good. Just as a parent disciplines a child, God to must discipline man.
Finally, we need to look at the "big picture." There's an interesting story I wish to share (2):
There once was a farmer who owned a horse. And one day the horse ran away. All the people in the town came to console him because of the loss. "Oh, I don't know," said the farmer, "maybe it's a bad thing and maybe it's not."
A few days later, the horse returned to the farm accompanied by 20 other horses. (Apparently he had found some wild horses and made friends!) All the townspeople came to congratulate him: "Now you have a stable full of horses!" "Oh, I don't know," said the farmer, "maybe it's a good thing and maybe it's not."
A few days later, the farmer's son was out riding one of the new horses. The horse got wild and threw him off, breaking the son's leg. So all the people in town came to console the farmer because of the accident. "Oh, I don't know," said the farmer, "maybe it's a bad thing and maybe it's not."
A few days later, the government declared war and instituted a draft of all able-bodied young men. They came to the town and carted off hundreds of young men, except for the farmer's son who had a broken leg. "Now I know," said the farmer, "that it was a good thing my horse ran away."
The point of this story is obvious. Life is a series of events, and until we've reached the end of the series, it's hard to know exactly why things are happening. That's one reason the Torah commands us to give respect to every elderly person – because through the course of life experience, they have seen the jigsaw puzzle pieces fall into place.
Now to defend my case.
I. The Ontological Argument
Con attempts to rebut this argument by attacking P1. Con is effectively arguing that an MGB is an impossible being. I think I satisfactorily rebutted his paradoxes. We will go more in depth on his attack on P1 once he responds.
Con's attempt to parody the argument with the non-existence of God and the Star Wars force fails for both of those reasons.
"The Big Bang could've occurred as a result of just the laws of physics being there," said astrophysicist Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkeley. "With the laws of physics, you can get universes.""Quantum mechanical fluctuations can produce the cosmos," said panelist Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the non-profit Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. "If you would just, in this room, just twist time and space the right way, you might create an entirely new universe. It's not clear you could get into that universe, but you would create it."
The major intuitive support behind premise #1 is that something can’t come from nothing without a supernatural cause. The case of virtual particles “popping into existence” does not overturn this intuition, because these entities do not emerge from “nothing.” They instead emerge from the quantum vacuum, or a field with a very low energy level. Columbia University Philosopher and theoretical physicist David Albert writes,[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.Uncaused events in quantum mechanics do not refute the principle that something cannot come from nothing. Furthermore, the reduction of causation in quantum events to unpredictable probabilities does not refute our normal experience that objects simply do not appear without a cause. This leaves us with sufficient evidence to believe that “whatever begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.”
1. Guide to the Perplexed, Chapter 3
3. Yujin Nagasawa; The Ontological Argument and the Devil, The Philosophical Quarterly, Volume 60, Issue 238, 1 January 2010, Pages 72–91, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9213.2008.603.x
Yesterday, it was true that I would write this argument.Today, it is true that I am writing this argument.Tomorrow, it will be true that I have written this argument.To possess complete knowledge, God would need to know all of these truths at once--but each of these truths is contradictory. That "I will write this argument" cannot be true at the same time that it is true that "I am writing this argument," but to a God, who exists in all times at once, all of these truths are true simultaneously. This is quite literally impossible. Either God does not know all three of these truths at once, or he is not temporally universal; either God is not omniscient or he is not omnipresent. If that's correct, then God does not exist.
Firstly, a maximally great being is necessarily perfectly good. If a being is not perfectly good, then there is some imperfection, which is not what God is. Second, if God can give moral commands such as not kill and not to torture babies for fun, it is necessary for God to be perfectly good. It follows that God cannot give evil commands like to commit mass genocide or to torture babies for fun.
Now to rebut con's case.
1. Against the 4 O's
A. God Cannot be Omniscient
Again God’s omniscience is not causative and thus free will can exit. If I have perfect knowledge that my son will choose ice cream over a bowl of cauliflower, it in no way prohibits my son’s ability to choose the former because my knowledge is not causative.
Further, because God is omnipotent, He could therefore choose to refrain from interfering in choices made by others.
B. God Cannot be Omniscient and Omnipresent
Con simply does not quite understand the issue here. Because God is also transcendence, He also exists outside the space-time framework. In God’s framework, all three truths are true simultaneously because he exists in eternity past, the present, and eternity future.
C. God Cannot be Omnipotent
Once again it’s clear that Con does not understand the philosophical concept of omnipotence. If we define God as perfectly good, it follows that God can do no evil. Does this mean God is not omnipotent? Absolutely not!
It’s impossible for God to create the impossible, like a stone too heavy for him to lift or an invisible pink unicorn.
Simply put: Omnipotence does not mean an absolute power like the Webster dictionary defines it, but rather God has the maximum power that any being could possibly have.
D. God Cannot be Omnibenevolent
Because free will exists, evil necessarily exists. If God stepped into the picture every time we were going to do something evil or wrong, then we do not have free will either. We can choose to be as great as Avraham Avinu or as wicked as Hitler, yimakh shamo v’zichro.
We may ask God “Why did you allow the holocaust to happen?” God responds by asking us that very same question.
III. Against God's Existence: Creation
This is related to the KCA. If the universe has a cause, then this cause necessarily transcends space-time. If a quantum fluctuation suddenly caused a huge universe to exist, then necessarily (1) the laws of physics transcends space time (proven in the KCA); (2) this quantum fluctuation transcends space-time; and (3) this quantum fluctuation is powerful enough to create a huge universe that will eventually create life. This is pretty close to the definition of God!
Thank you. please vote pro!
This argument preempts all other arguments because precedes the debate itself. Given Pro's drops of large parts of the K, including the voting impacts stemming from the K, a Con vote is required.
I've shown that free will and omniscience cannot coexist. The very fact that Pro fails to dispute that we have free will indicates that God is not omniscient, mandating a Con vote.
Pro dropped this argument entirely (setting aside the illicit new argument). This argument demonstrates that God cannot be both omniscient and omnipresent, requiring a Con vote.
I've shown that God cannot be omnipotent. If this is the case, a Con vote is required.
I've shown that the existence of raw, purposeless evil precludes God from being omnibenevolent. In fact, if God were omnibenevolent, he would would not allow humans to have free will, precluding Pro's objective morals argument. This requires a Con vote.
I've shown that existence came from uncaused quantum fluctuations occurring in a state of nothingness. God is not the creator, and so does not exist.
My counter-syllogism on the ontological argument and Pro's failure to prove God's benevolence are reasons to vote Con.
Vote Con on the weight of offense. I am winning far more major arguments than Pro is winning. Cherry-picking arguments to vote on would be wrong, as any one argument could in theory constitute equal proof against any other. Voters must vote holistically.