The God Debate

Friday, March 31, 2006

 
One question... Do you dispute the Big Bang Theory? Or do you agree with it?

 
Language is limited and therefore not adequate to support the existence or lack thereof of a limitless God. Words can easily be manipulated and used in whatever manner is most beneficial for the person communicating. While dictionary definitions are not without their uses, they are incredibly limiting. What if there is no one word to describe what God is or is not? Although these vain word games of supernatural vs. natural vs. supranatural are amusing, they prove nothing. I suggest that this debate would be carried out more effectively through the use of broad concepts.

I am not just making stuff up. However, I have refrained from directly citing a dictionary source becuase I generally believe it to be too narrow. However, if you would like, I will readress your arguments and include dictionary definitions. Expect a second reuttal soon.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

 

Rebuttal #1

(2) To exist is to have actual being, or to be real. Conversely, to not exist is to not have actual being, or to be not real.Example: A squirrel exists, a human exists.

This is not a poor definition of existence; however it fails to exemplify the existence of abstract concepts such as love, mathematical theory, etc. That which exists is not exclusively physical.

Let me clarify, as humans have the ability to think about things. The neural process of connecting thoughts has to do with specific "nodes" of meaning, called concepts:

(1)A concept is a general idea derived or inferred from specific instances or occurrences.
Concepts are things formed in the mind; thoughts, or notions. Concepts are simply abstract ideas.

Source: American Heritage Dictionary, 2000. American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 2001.

(2) Ideas are thoughts.

Source: WordNet 2.0, 2003.

The following can be inferred:

A. Concepts can be about anything.

B. All concepts are ideas.

C. An idea exists within the human mind, and may or may not exist outside of the human mind. For instance, one can conceive of a fluffy bunny with six legs which breathes fire. This is a concept ("one can conceive of X") and is an idea within one's head. However, it does not exist.

D. One can conceive of a higher power of any sort. This does not mean it exists or not. Direct proof of this conception (see the refutation of 4-D space-time) needs to exist for the conception to exist. Direct proof only comes from the natural world, since humans are only capable of understanding things in terms of their sense experience, which is only natural.

In conclusion, concepts such as math are simply descriptors of what already has been proven to exist through sense experience. These concepts in and of themselves don't exist except in our heads as neural impulses, but they describe natural law. Love is a concept which describes emotion towards another object or entity in the natural world ("I love you," "I really love eating"); it may also describe a similar type of emotion towards a concept in the supernatural world ("I love God," or "I love unicorns."), but such emotions are generated by the human brain anyways and may be assigned to any concept as humans see fit. This concept does not have to refer to something which exists or even makes any sense to another human being. This debate does not deal with concepts, however; it deals with the existence of a higher being. Stating that "I can conceive of an infinite, non-extant, timeless, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing being" means as much as "I can conceive of a unicorn with the power to create worlds, collapse stars, and transcend the natural world to the beyond at its will." They are both concepts; both refer to supernatural entities, and in both cases, these entities do not exist; existing is a property assigned to those entities in the natural, or known world.




4) Supernatural things do not exist in nature; specifically, they are not physical or material.

Again, a simple yet effective definition. I might add that because supernatural things exist outside nature and consequently its laws, they are unable to exist in nature.

There is no disagreement. Things which are supernatural (God, robot monkies from outer space) are not natural.





) God is a supernatural being.

Here is in part where I disagree. God is neither natural nor supernatural. So then, what is He? Based on the evidence I presented, I can make several assumptions about the nature of God. God is:

1.Self existent, timeless, nonspatial, immaterial (Since he created space, time, and matter, He must be outside space, time, and matter) In other words, He is without limits. He is infinite.
2. Unimaginably powerful since He created the universe out of nothing.
3. Personal, since He chose to convert a state of nothingness into the time-space-material universe (An impersonal force has no ability to make choices).
4. Supremely intelligent, since He designed life and the universe with such incredible complexity and precision.
5. Purposeful, since He designed the many forms of life to live in a specific and ordered environment.
6. Absolutly morally pure.

Okay. So if God exists outside of the time-space-matter continuum He exists outside of natural laws and is therefore supernatural. Right? Wrong! I also added that that which is supernatural cannot exist within natural laws. This implies that they are merely outside of them but not above them. If God is God, not only must He exist outside of natural laws, He must be above them. If He is above them, it means He can bend them and consequently exist within them to a certain extent. God is neither supernatural nor natural because He, as God must transcend both. God is supranatural. Supranatural is defined as that which transcends nature.

If God is neither supernatural or natural, then it is theoretically both impossible for him to exist in the natural world, and impossible to conceive of him as one would conceive of unicorns and leprechauns or any other supernatural being. This is an impossible contradiction. If God can bend natural law, it would be nice to actually see some evidence of natural law bent by God. If God exists within natural law, then God is limited, because existing within natural law automatically implies being bound by natural law. Supranatural is not a valid definition, either. As I stated earlier:

"Supernatural things do not exist in nature. Natural things do exist in nature."

These two properties are mutually exclusive: (~A v B) or (A v ~B). Since there is no dictionary definition for supranatural, I will do the best I can by combining the prefix supra- with the term "natural." "Supra" is defined as something above. This means that the term "supranatural" does not, in fact, mean something which is natural, but rather, something which is above the natural world. This is synonymous with calling God "supernatural."

This is further confounded by a definition of God as:

(a) an infinite being
(b) timeless
(c) self-extant
(d) immaterial
(e) capable of choice
(f) all-knowing
(g) all-good
(h) all-powerful
(i) male

There is no rational possibility of a natural and supernatural higher power combined; a power with even a scintilla of existence is limited in terms of its existence by the laws governing the natural world. No entity may exist within the natural world and yet disobey natural law: if such an entity does exist, it is outside the realm of sense experience as it has not been discovered yet. If God exists partially within the natural world, then God is in part bound by natural law; the only possible way to contend this would be to give a live demonstration involving irrevocable proof that an entity can openly violate natural law. This is impossible, as it would require ultimate knowledge of every aspect of natural law in order to conclude that such a violation took place to begin with. (humans' conceptualization of the natural world is rather limited at the current point in time) Not only is this a practical impossibility, but only God may possess this ultimate knowledge; otherwise, God would cease to be the greatest possible being. Conclusively, humans must become greater than God to prove through direct knowledge God's existence.

Another troubling issue is this: properties which mean nothing outside of the natural world are given in tandem with a series of incoherent infinite attributes. The following contradictions plague the coherency of the above definition of God:

(1) God cannot be both male and infinite. To be infinite is to be undefined. Any definition must be describing a finite entity. There is no in-between; something is either finite or infinite, and not both. God cannot be female if God is male ("He"); if God even resembles anything, that indicates God doesn't resemble something else, rendering God finite. If God doesn't resemble something, then God is limited to not resembling that entity.

(2) Infinity is not a quantity; anything described in terms of infinites is being described in terms of a never-ending direction. One can automatically infer that, besides the contradictory terminology of "infinite being," anything which is infinite is unknowable: infinity is undefinable. Therefore, God, being infinite, must also be unknowable, which begs the question: from where are these properties derived? What direct natural evidence points to their validity? God must be either infinite and unknowable or finite and natural.

(3) If God is capable of choice, can God choose to be evil? If God chooses to be evil, can God be called all-good? If God is capable of choice, can God choose to ignore things? Can God choose to reduce his power? Can God render Himself female, or powerless? The very notion of a being with infinite attributes and the power of choice is an absurdity. God must be capable of both good and evil in order to possess free choice. However, God is defined as all-good. This is an impossible contradiction.

(4) Can God create a rock which he is unable to lift? If God does not have this capability, he lacks the all-powerful attribute. If God does create such a rock, he cannot be infinitely powerful as God would be unable to lift the rock. As one can see, infinite attribution leads to absurdity: God will always have a limit regardless of his choice; if the choice cannot be made, free will is lacking; if the choice is not known, absolute knowledge is lacking.

(5) God cannot be both a being, which is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "something which exists in actuality, life, or reality" and to be immaterial. In addition to this, God cannot be a first cause, as no being has been known in the natural world to possess a first cause attribute. No being is likewise known to remain timeless. It is theoretically possible for God to be a first cause, but only if God is not a being.

(6) Another problem, aside from the very nature of any individual infinite attribute, is the stacking problem of infinite attributes: one creates problems when combining ultimate power, ultimate kindness, and ultimate knowledge. Each attribute contradicts the others:
a. An all-powerful being is capable of infinite cruelty, as this is a corollary of power. However,
all-kindness is not possible in a being capable of cruelty.
b. An all-knowing being is capable of seeing the future in perfection and in its absolute entirety. Yet this renders such a being powerless in changing the future. Conversely, to be
able to change the future, a corollary of infinite power, renders a being ignorant of the future.
c. An all-knowing being cannot possibly allow evil to exist in the world and at the same time be
all-powerful or all-kind. Unfortunately, the everyday process of existence as natural being includes negative elements, such as pain, death, and suffering. All three infinite attributes
cannot coexist given reality. This is also known as the problem of evil; many philosophers
have attempted to solve it via complex proof; however, the null hypothesis that God simply
does not exist is a simpler solution. Occam's razor renders any argument requiring more than a syllogism (two premises and a conclusion) insufficient at tackling the problem of evil.

(6) Ockham's razor is a law in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known.

Ahh, good old Ockham’s Razor. Unfortunately for this argument, it goes both ways. Look at my opening argument, and you will see why I believe God’s existence is the simpler explanation. I won’t detail it here because it is not necessary to disprove this argument.


There is no evidence refuting the principle of Ockham's razor at any point in both the opening statement and the rebuttal. "Nothing" is simpler than God; God has properties while nothing has no properties. If God was nothing, then Ockham's razor would not be a problem, but then God wouldn't exist anyways. Therefore, the default position is that no God exists. One must argue from this position towards the existence of a higher power. There must be absolute proof of a God's existence, but this is problematic as described above. Hoping that God exists is not enough; having faith that God might exist as the explanation for why the universe is the way it is might be a good start, except for the fact that the definition of God and the very nature of God are both impossible and unsatisfactory at the current moment. Another reason to assume that the default would be nothing is history - God was the assumed default explanation for many things in life which science continuously proves to be natural phenomena which need no further explanation.

For example, God supposedly caused natural disasters. Science has since demonstrated that natural phenomena such as plate tectonics adequately describe the process behind earthquakes; meteorology provides an explanation for the formation of hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and blizzards in terms of natural elements on the planet, etc. There need not be a supernatural cause for something which is easily observed to have been caused by natural phenomena. Science is based upon what can be observed; this is knowledge. When science and belief in God crossed paths in the past, the God explanation always fought an uphill battle against simple scientific knowledge, eventually becoming absurd.

An excellent example of this is how the heliocentric model of the solar system came into be. Prior to the work of Galileo, the best description of how our immediate universe was layed out lies with
Psalms 93 and 104, and Ecclesiastes 1:5: the motion of celestial bodies revolved around the suspended position of the earth. Galileo proposed heliocentricism, in direct contradiction to this widely-held belief. Nobody could have proven for certain either way except for one important technological innovation: the telescope. Through observation of details previously unseen, knowledge supporting the heliocentric hypothesis quickly became enough to change the consensus about the layout of the universe: a Godly view of the universe no longer had Earth at its center, but the sun. Science, armed with a process of classifying and relating knowledge, pushed religion and a Godly earth-centered universe away in favor of a model which agreed with observation. Other absurd beliefs include the concept that a higher being suddenly created the Earth in some magical way (most religions have a creation story of some sort - I can make one up, too, and it is just as valid as any other, since the story does not have to be conceived in agreement with observation). Science has a better explanation based solely upon observation of what exists in the natural world, and works in contrary motion to most religious belief: religion takes belief and attempts to justify it by any means necessary; science starts with observation and draws the most plausible conclusions from these observations. God is not a necessary element in any accepted scientific law to this date. The sphere of God's influence continuously loses ground to science. Extrapolating this trend over time, one can see that the concept of God is not needed as an explanation at all. Most certainly, it is the worst possible choice as a default explanation.


(7) Knowledge is the awareness of that which exists.

I am almost in agreement with this definition. Except that as mentioned previously, existence is not limited to physical things. It includes concepts and abstract ideas.

A concept is the same thing as an abstract idea. A concept exists in the brain as a series of neurological connections. Concepts describe "nodes" of meaning, which can be anything from the simplest possible emotion (desire, hate, fear) to a complex chain of other interconnected concepts (making sense of a sentence of English). The concept of God exists in the brain as a series of neurological connections. This does not mean that God exists in the outside world as God unless the concept of God can fit within the definitions of existence. Then, the concept of God would point towards an actual God outside of the neurological connections within our brain which give us the notion of a God.



A. Supernatural things are unclassifiable by features in nature. (4)

True.

B. By definition, a supernatural thing is not physical nor material and cannot exist in nature (3, 4, 1).

True.

C. All natural things are real. (2,3)

True.

D. All supernatural things are not real. (2)

False. The definition was that all supernatural things do not exist inside of nature. Not that they do not exist at all. To support this, let us look at the definition of supernatural (Which was perhaps too broad) and see how it is faulty and thus why statement is false:

Consider the fourth dimension. It fits into the definition of supernatural (See what I mean about it being too broad) because it does not exist in nature. We live in a 3-D world and thus things that are 4-d cannot exist naturally. Yet, the concept of the fourth dimension has been mathematically verified by physicists.

Thus, by that definition of supernatural, supernatural concepts can exist.

The fourth dimension does not disprove anything; it actually supports the distinction between natural and supernatural. The fourth dimension is a concept (a thought in the human brain) describing the natural world in terms of length, height, width, and as a function of time. Since this is a concept, or abstract idea, it does not exist in and of itself in the real world. However, it describes everyday life. Concepts are not supernatural, but may describe supernatural things. Therefore, supernatural concepts cannot exist, but a concept describing anything, be it natural or supernatural, can exist. The concept of the fourth dimension exists as a series of neural impulses in our head. It describes a chain of properties which are knowable through sense experience. Therefore, the concept of four-dimensional space-time is a concept describing the natural world. A concept decribing the supernatural world might be the concept of a fruitcake bigger than the universe, a unicorn, Middle Earth, and, of course, God. The concept exists, but these things don't, since they are supernatural.

As soon as evidence is found describing an entity's existence, it is part of the natural world, as humans only understand evidence in terms of their sensory perception. The mutually exclusive definition of natural and supernatural and the definition of knowledge is uncontestable and irrefutable; if the definitions of truth and natural are uncontested, the converse of natural is also uncontested by virtue of the principle of negation.

Imagination is not a valid means by which one can acquire knowledge; imagination is the means by which an individual may think of something, or conceive of concepts. Imagination is knowledge processing: basic sense experience can be combined into abstracts which describe existing entities or impossible, non-existing entities.

E. God is a supernatural being.

False. As explained in the definitions portion, God is not supernatural, but supranatural.

Again, according to the syntactic properties of the English language, the prefix supra- means above; consequentially, supranatural is synonymous with supernatural, which means higher than nature. There is little distinction. A better definition of a God which is both natural and supernatural, as it was put in the first rebuttal, would be a quasinatural God.

If God is to be both natural and supernatural, I need supporting evidence (a dictionary definition or direct, irrefutable, uncontestable sensory evidence which proves that God is both natural and supernatural). Otherwise, the standard Christian and dictionary defintion of God as a supernatural being stands.

As demonstrated earlier, a quasi-natural God is an absurdity and needs no further attention; it cannot exist just as someone cannot be both alive and dead at the same time and true and false must mean different things.

The opening argument of my opponent shall also be touched upon briefly:

If there is an absolute standard of morality engrained in all people’s hearts, it suggests the existence of God.

There is no absolute standard of morality ingrained in all people's hearts. Humans have the concept of what is "good" and what is "bad," but what is "immoral" and "moral" varies widely from person to person, society to society. Therefore, evidence of humanity suggests a lack of the existence of God. The fact that humans trust their hearts to murder other humans demonstrates that no such absolute standard exists. Even if an absolute standard of morality existed, one could just as easily claim that the human genome contains a knowable answer to the question of absolute morality.

Inherent and identical morality across all mankind cannot be explained with evolution, much to the chagrin of Darwinists.

Actually, it is quite effectively explained by science; natural selection, unlike an unknowable God, has a significant body of supporting evidence.

Some claim that morality developed because it was a social mechanism that allowed humans to work and survive together. In essence, they call morality an instinct. However, this cannot be true because if morality is an instinct, it is in direct opposition with other instincts.

One of the main reasons why Homo sapiens has been such a remarkably effective species is climate change. Through the gradual warming of the earth, primitive pre-humans evolved a larger brain: brains require immense energy to power, but allow for more effective communication and thought. A greater abundance of food and temperate climate led to pre-humans with larger brains surviving instead of perishing. These pre-humans more effectively communicated with other pre-humans. Other changes include the enlargement and refinement of the larynx; according to natural selection, those humans which possessed the means for effective verbal communcation made peace with human rivals, forming larger groups, and establishing primitive societal and cultural standards. This, and a constant thirst for new territory and the urge to explore (an instinctive urge much different from H. neanderthal) was all that the first H. sapiens needed to quickly replace any remaining and less sophisticated primates, territorially speaking.

Morality doesn't come from God. Morality comes from an instinctive urge to keep the peace in the community and to help out those in need, even if it may require endangering one's own life: precisely the traits which helped H. Sapiens supersede and eventually push out other competing humanoids.

I am not conceiving of this outright. This is in reference to the currently accepted knowledge of the scientific fossil record. Modern man actually shared the earth with up to four other species of related humanoids in the genus Homo. Scientists don't make things up; this can be concluded due to the discovery of humanoid fossils dated with a relative degree of accuracy.

For example, if someone sees a person being mugged the moral thing to do is to help them. The animal reaction is to run away and remain safe. If morality were an instinct it wouldn’t contradict but compliment other instincts. Additionally, there is a third force at work that allows humans to decide which option to follow.

Humans have the capability of thinking things through very carefully before making a decision. Again, this was simply another element which lead to the success of our species over several other competitors. Morality compliments another instinct, as anyone can see that a generally moral society will have an evolutionary advantage over an immoral one, assuming one defines morality as the "urge to do good to others of one's own species in one's immediate environment."

One interesting explanation for the fact that humans are moral animals yet seem to manage annihilation of each other by the millions in epic wars stems from the way in which they succeeded approximately five hundred thousand to fifty thousand years ago. Humans worked in small, closely-knit groups ranging in size from a few dozen to several hundred; larger societies generally did not form as this was prohibitive under the hunter-gatherer lifestyle at the time. By the time agriculture allowed for the formation of larger societies, H. sapiens was the only species remaining from the genus Homo. As a consequence of this, very little natural selection took place which favored the formation of social morality. Humans are very good at maintaining peace within their own culture, but find it difficult to do so on a global level. In addition, this explains a human's inability to rationalize suffering without actually experiencing it at a direct level: nobody in the U.S. cares if sixty people die in Iraq from suicide bombing; however, sixty people dying in your own neighborhood from suicide bombing would be a catastrophic, life-changing experience. If someone else's society gets destroyed, yours will end up populating the gap: more power to you. If your own society is in trouble, your social network and thus your survival network is threatened: terror and fear results.

God doesn't need enter the realm; evidence from the fossil record describes why humans are the way they are better than the existence of a creator.

This third force cannot be accounted for by Darwinists.

Actually, I just did. Also, note that humans are inclined to hold superstitious belief, as holding superstitious belief within a society created an effective means for social bonding, likewise leading to an increase in survival probability.

Evolution also cannot account for self destructive behaviors such as suicide, smoking, drinking, and cutting.

All of these behaviors become a problem due to a human being's natural reward pathway. Humankind has not had time to naturally select, or evolve, into modern-day society. Natural selection only has a significant impact over an extended period of time; hundreds of thousands of years are needed to evoke significant changes in physiological properties of a species. Smoking, drinking, and other drugs press chemical buttons which signify important rewards: sexual intercourse would lead to the propagation of the species, an important survival strategy. Those which successfully reproduced and took care of their offspring eventually pushed out those which were less successful. Most highly addictive drugs simply press the same chemical pathway as sex and love: sex results in more genetic copies of one's self, so a feel-good effect accompanies it; love results in the caretaking of offspring to increase the offspring's chances of survival - a feel-good effect also accompanies love. Suicide and cutting are caused by chemical imbalances which result in terrible feelings; the rational mind may end up conceiving of a solution which is less than ideal: death.

In conclusion, so much evidence points to the existence of a theistic God that, ironically, atheism becomes the worldview based on blind faith and theism the logically based one.

In actuality, a collection of ideas was represented as an attempt to justify the existence of a higher power. A-theism is the lack of theism. Since atheism is a lack of belief, the standard atheist has no belief, and therefore no faith in anything which cannot be explained by observation. Due to the inherent unknowability of a higher power, blind faith is only required insofar as a supernatural being's existence is concerned.

End. I will post refutations of the basic philosophical arguments for God, but it is unnecessary insofar as each argument is still defeated by my opening and rebuttal material. Still, expect to see that posted in the next 24 hours.

Monday, March 27, 2006

 

Rebuttal Against Ian's Opening Argument

Since the rest of our debate hinges on this argument being adressed, I thought I would go ahead and post my rebuttal.


This is my critique of this argument. Note that if even one premise is found to be illogical, unfounded, or untrue, then whole syllogistic argument is considered false. I intend to attack this argument from several different angles and show that it is poorly wrought and inconsistent.

Definitions

(1) A rational human has (among other corollaries of reason) the capability to distinguish between truth and falsehood:Truth - a thing which is. (A) = 1Falsehood - a thing which is not. (B) = 0Either something is true, or it is false. [(A*~B) v (~A*B)] (1 or 0)Things may not be both true and false, i.e., ~(A*B) if A=true (1) and B=false (0)

This definition about the nature of absolute truth is logical and true.

(2) To exist is to have actual being, or to be real. Conversely, to not exist is to not have actual being, or to be not real.Example: A squirrel exists, a human exists.

This is not a poor definition of existence; however it fails to exemplify the existence of abstract concepts such as love, mathematical theory, etc. That which exists is not exclusively physical.

(3) Natural things are those which exist in the natural world.

This definition is perhaps oversimplified, but effective for the purposes of this argument.

4) Supernatural things do not exist in nature; specifically, they are not physical or material.

Again, a simple yet effective definition. I might add that because supernatural things exist outside nature and consequently its laws, they are unable to exist in nature.

5) God is a supernatural being.

Here is in part where I disagree. God is neither natural nor supernatural. So then, what is He? Based on the evidence I presented, I can make several assumptions about the nature of God. God is:

1.Self existent, timeless, nonspatial, immaterial (Since he created space, time, and matter, He must be outside space, time, and matter) In other words, He is without limits. He is infinite.
2. Unimaginably powerful since He created the universe out of nothing.
3. Personal, since He chose to convert a state of nothingness into the time-space-material universe (An impersonal force has no ability to make choices).
4. Supremely intelligent, since He designed life and the universe with such incredible complexity and precision.
5. Purposeful, since He designed the many forms of life to live in a specific and ordered environment.
6. Absolutly morally pure.

Okay. So if God exists outside of the time-space-matter continuum He exists outside of natural laws and is therefore supernatural. Right? Wrong! I also added that that which is supernatural cannot exist within natural laws. This implies that they are merely outside of them but not above them. If God is God, not only must He exist outside of natural laws, He must be above them. If He is above them, it means He can bend them and consequently exist within them to a certain extent. God is neither supernatural nor natural because He, as God must transcend both. God is supranatural. Supranatural is defined as that which transcends nature.


(6) Ockham's razor is a law in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known.

Ahh, good old Ockham’s Razor. Unfortunately for this argument, it goes both ways. Look at my opening argument, and you will see why I believe God’s existence is the simpler explanation. I won’t detail it here because it is not necessary to disprove this argument.

(7) Knowledge is the awareness of that which exists.

I am almost in agreement with this definition. Except that as mentioned previously, existence is not limited to physical things. It includes concepts and abstract ideas.

Rebuttal of Inferences

A. Supernatural things are unclassifiable by features in nature. (4)

True.

B. By definition, a supernatural thing is not physical nor material and cannot exist in nature (3, 4, 1).

True.

C. All natural things are real. (2,3)

True.

D. All supernatural things are not real. (2)

False. The definition was that all supernatural things do not exist inside of nature. Not that they do not exist at all. To support this, let us look at the definition of supernatural (Which was perhaps too broad) and see how it is faulty and thus why statement is false:

Consider the fourth dimension. It fits into the definition of supernatural (See what I mean about it being too broad) because it does not exist in nature. We live in a 3-D world and thus things that are 4-d cannot exist naturally. Yet, the concept of the fourth dimension has been mathematically verified by physicists.

Thus, by that definition of supernatural, supernatural concepts can exist.

E. God is a supernatural being.

False. As explained in the definitions portion, God is not supernatural, but supranatural.

F. God is not real. (D, 2, 5) Specifically, God does not exist.

False. Because:

1. That which is supernatural can exist according to the definition. Thus even, if God were supernatural, it would not disprove His existence by default.
2. God is not supernatural. The argument states that that which is supernatural doesn’t exist, but fails to mention anything about that which is supranatural. Thus, even if that which is supernatural cannot exist, God can exist because He is not supernatural.


G. All arguments default with the assumption that God does not exist, since non-existenceis a simpler explanation than anything else. (6)

False. While Ockham’s Razor is correct, its application in the instance is not. There has been no attempt to prove whether God’s existence is simpler or more complex than His nonexistence. I am not talking philosophically here, but scientifically. Probability suggests the existence of God.

H. Knowledge is the awareness of things which are real. (2,7)

True. However, not that that which exists can be either supernatural or natural according to the definitions and refutations given.

I. The supernatural cannot be known. (C, D, ~H)

False. While that which is supernatural (According to the definition) may not be directly observed, its principles can be understood. Consider the fourth dimension example I gave.

J. God cannot be known. (E, I)

False. Because:

1.The supernatural can be known.
2. Even if the supernatural could not exist or be known, God is not supernatural but supranatural.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

 
I simply don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. This statement might come as a shock to many of you out there because it appears to be a contradiction. While some faith is required for my conclusions, it’s often forgotten that faith is also required of a worldview such as atheism. As limited human beings, we simply don’t possess the type of knowledge that provides us with absolute proof or disproof of God’s existence. Outside the knowledge of our own existence, we deal in the realm of probability. However, I will soon demonstrate that there is strong evidence supporting the existence of a theistic God.

Just because I am a Christian does not mean I have to turn my brain off. While religion is about faith to a certain degree, it is also about facts. Facts are central to all religions, because all religious worldviews- including atheism- make truth claims, and many of these claims can be evaluated through historical and scientific investigation. But can the truth ever really be known? I believe that it can and that it matches with the claims of the Bible. However, in this debate, my main purpose will not be to prove Christianity, but the existence of a generic theistic God.

To begin with, I will demonstrate the absolute nature of truth. It is the solid base on which much of my argument rests. Many today claim that truth is relative and cannot be known. However, this argument is self defeating. Before, I explain why, however, check out some characteristics of truth:

- Truth is not invented, but discovered
- Truth is transcultural
- Truth is unchanging even though our beliefs about the truth may change
- Beliefs cannot change a fact
- Truth is not affected by the attitude of the one professing it
- All truths are absolute truths

If someone makes the claim that “All truth is relative,” then is that a relative truth? If someone says, “There are no absolutes,” how can they be absolutely sure that this is true? Claims that discredit absolutism in favor of relativism contradict themselves because they are in fact stated as absolutes and thus imply the existence of objective truth. Additionally, it is impossible to be a skeptic about everything because that would mean that you would have to doubt skepticism itself; but the more you doubt skepticism the more sure you would have to become. In short, there is absolute truth, it can be known, and the opposite of true is false.

So how do we discover what the truth is? Well that is what the purpose of this debate is. Here is a brief outline of some of things that I hope to argue in order to demonstrate the existence of God:

Scientific Evidence

The Cosmological Argument: More and more evidence points to the Big Bang theory as correct. Everything that has a start has a cause and nothing can come from nothing. This is the Law of Causality. If the Big Bang Theory is true, a force outside of space, time, and matter had to have caused it.Anthropic Argument: The design of the universe is so precise and intricate that the more scientists’ discover, the more slim the probability of random existence becomes. Since the universe came into being with the Big Bang, it had one start. Additionally, since it is infinite there can be no parallel universes. The chance that a universe such as ours would randomly come into being on the first try is astronomical. The more reasonable conclusion is the existence of a designer.

Teological Argument: Evolution and the origin of life theory that many scientists espouse today are not true- They are just bad science! I have divided my justifications for this claim into two categories:

Origin of Life- Darwinists have never observed or gathered any evidence suggesting the spontaneous formation of life from non living matter. They take it on faith. This is too bad since their belief that simple life forms spontaneously arose from lifeless matter has much evidence against, but not in favor of it. To begin with, there is no such thing as “simple life.” Even the earliest organisms would have had the equivalent of 100,000 encyclopedias of information stored in them! Even if they had billions of years to develop, it still would not be enough time for all this information to come together so precisely. The Principle of Uniformity suggests that such complexity of life could not have evolved without guidance. For example, if you put a watch in a bag, smash it with a hammer, and then shake the bag up, will the watch gradually come together again? No. Even if you shake the bag for millions and billions of years? The answer is still no. However, that is essentially what Darwinists believe (except that even the most simple life form is more complex than a watch).

Evolution: When Darwin developed his theory of natural selection, the cell was still an impenetrable mystery. But today, scientists have peered into the cell and discovered something incredible: The cell is irreducibly complex! If just one of its parts was taken away (even one gene) it would fail to function. So how did the cell evolve? The only answer is that it didn’t. Some Darwinists try to claim that there was a “scaffolding system” allowing evolution to take place, but then the question of who put the scaffolding there (since Darwinists claim that evolution is all by chance) must inevitably be asked. Additionally, the fossil record does not support the idea of evolution at all. In fact, it acts as evidence against it. In light of all this, intelligent design (which is scientific and not necessarily religiously motivated) becomes an intelligent alternative.

Moral/ Philosophical Evidence

What is the difference between Mother Theresa and Hitler? To most people this question is outlandish and the answer is simple: Mother Theresa helped people and Hitler killed people. One was good, the other bad. Such distinctions are important because they imply and absolute Moral Law. The Moral Law is highly relevant to this debate. To demonstrate why, I have laid out the following syllogism:

Every law has a law giver.
There is a Moral Law.
Therefore, there is a Moral Law giver (i.e. God)

If there is an absolute standard of morality engrained in all people’s hearts, it suggests the existence of God. However, many claim that like truth, morality is all relative. If this is the case, then there really is no difference between Hitler and Mother Theresa, just varying perspectives. However, if no true standard of morality existed then there would be no basis for argument against or for different standards of behavior. There wouldn’t even be a debate right now. Dissent over morality actually suggests that there is a set standard, because without an absolute to compare to, people have no basis for deciding right and wrong.

So if morality is objective, how can it be determined? Perhaps ironically, even those who claim to believe in relative morality are usually not happy when someone else treats them unjustly, although it may be in accordance with that particular person’s standard of morality. Thus it is not our stated beliefs or actions that help us determine the nature of right or wrong, but our reactions. Humans have an innate sense of right and wrong that is part of their very nature. In other words, there is a Moral Law and it points to a Law Giver.

Inherent and identical morality across all mankind cannot be explained with evolution, much to the chagrin of Darwinists. Some claim that morality developed because it was a social mechanism that allowed humans to work and survive together. In essence, they call morality an instinct. However, this cannot be true because if morality is an instinct, it is in direct opposition with other instincts. For example, if someone sees a person being mugged the moral thing to do is to help them. The animal reaction is to run away and remain safe. If morality were an instinct it wouldn’t contradict but compliment other instincts. Additionally, there is a third force at work that allows humans to decide which option to follow. This third force cannot be accounted for by Darwinists. Evolution also cannot account for self destructive behaviors such as suicide, smoking, drinking, and cutting. The more rational conclusion therefore, is that there is a Moral Law Giver.

In conclusion, so much evidence points to the existence of a theistic God that, ironically, atheism becomes the worldview based on blind faith and theism the logically based one. Both cannot be true because truth is objective and the opposite of true is false. There are many reasons that people deny the existence of God. One is intellectual. However, I have just addressed this objection and rendered it null. I will expand on this more as the debate continues. What I have jotted out above is very general and limited in comparison to all the information that is actually available. Another reason that people deny the existence of God is because of emotional obstacles. It is not easy for scientists to accept that they have spent hundreds of years climbing to the highest peak of knowledge only to reach the top and find some theologians who have been sitting there since the beginning of time. The hypocrisy of religion is also an emotional obstacle, as is religious exclusivism. The final obstacle that people have for believing in God is volitional. If there is a God, then there is most likely a set standard of behavior that people must follow. If this is true, their freedom of choice is limited. In this debate I hope to logically explain the existence of God, although emotional and volitional obstacles are likely to impede the process. Those aside, no individual can objectively examine the evidence and still deny the logical presence of God.

 

Ian - Opening Argument

I consider the following my opening statement:

(1) A rational human has (among other corollaries of reason) the capability to distinguish between truth and falsehood:
Truth - a thing which is. (A) = 1
Falsehood - a thing which is not. (B) = 0
Either something is true, or it is false. [(A*~B) v (~A*B)] (1 or 0)
Things may not be both true and false, i.e., ~(A*B) if A=true (1) and B=false (0)

Sources:
Wordnet 2.0, Princeton University, 2003.
Hurley, Patrick J. - A Concise Introduction to Logic, 2005.


(2) To exist is to have actual being, or to be real. Conversely, to not exist is to not have actual being, or to be not real.
Example: A squirrel exists, a human exists.

Source:
American Heritage Dictionary, 2000.


(3) Natural things are those which exist in the natural world.

Source:
American Heritage Dictionary, 2000.
Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, 2002.
Wordnet 2.0, Princeton University, 2003.


(4) Supernatural things do not exist in nature; specifically, they are not physical or material.

Source: Wordnet 2.0, Princeton University, 2003.


(5) God is a supernatural being.

Sources:
Wordnet 2.0, Princeton University, 2003.
American Heritage Dictionary, 2000.


(6) Ockham's razor is a law in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known.

Sources:
Wordnet 2.0, Princeton University, 2003.
The American Heritage Dictionary, 2000.


(7) Knowledge is the awareness of that which exists.

Source:
Merriam-Webster's dictionary of law, 1996.


Inferences:

A. Supernatural things are unclassifiable by features in nature. (4)

B. By definition, a supernatural thing is not physical nor material and cannot exist in nature (3, 4, 1).

C. All natural things are real. (2,3)

D. All supernatural things are not real. (2)

E. God is a supernatural being.

F. God is not real. (D, 2, 5) Specifically, God does not exist.

G. All arguments default with the assumption that God does not exist, since non-existence
is a simpler explanation than anything else. (6)

H. Knowledge is the awareness of things which are real. (2,7)

I. The supernatural cannot be known. (C, D, ~H)

J. God cannot be known. (E, I)

Conclusions:

God is unknowable. God's existence is impossible.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

 

Introduction

This blog will be used to hold an ongoing debate about a simple, yet fundamental question: Does God exist? There are no formal rules in this debate but it is expected to be clean, interesting, and hopefully enlightening for all sides and any other individuals observing. The two main debaters will have full access to this blog. All other individuals may post comments and are most welcome to do so. Comments deemed offensive, inflammatory, or generally off-topic will be ignored and deleted. Constructive criticism of arguments is both allowed and absolutely necessary for ongoing discussion. Any personal attacks on debaters or observers are strongly discouraged. Above all, please enjoy this experience and make the most of it while it lasts!

Expect opening statements from both debaters some time during this week.

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