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Re: TruthfulChristian vs. Aught3 debate

PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:57 am
by Aught3
In this post I'll be summarising my arguments both for the non-existence of God and the nature of morality.

First, I want to re-state that the arguments I've made for the non-existence of God in this debate applies only to the Christian god (God). I do not think that being an atheist necessarily implies that you actively deny the existence of gods but people who do still come under the atheist umbrella. The objection I launched against the existence of God is a very old one, the problem of evil. I reframed this argument somewhat as the argument from gratuitous suffering, but used the terms interchangeably. The problem of evil rests on a disproof by contradiction, namely that the nature of God is inconsistent with the natural world we see. God is understood by Christians to be all powerful, all knowing, and all good. My opponent did not disagree with this.

However, when we look around our world we see many instances of gratuitous suffering (the examples I gave were painful deaths from insurable diseases, injuries due to natural disasters, and the suffering of animals). My opponent partially objected to the existence of gratuitous suffering, saying that without evil, good could not exist. This is not correct. It might be accurate to say that without evil we could not recognise good but good it would still be, whether we had a word for it or not. He also said that the suffering might actually be necessary for some purpose, but he could not speculate on what that purpose was. I cited the example of heaven to make the point that God is perfectly capable of arranging things so that we do not have to suffer and, even if God is teaching us an apparently incomprehensible lesson, why is it that animals have to suffer just as much if not more than we do? What is the greater good being served by their pain an agony?

Given these two facts we then form the contradiction. God knows about the suffering since he is all knowing, the wants to help us since he is all good, and he is able to prevent gratuitous suffering as he is all powerful. Given the nature of God, gratuitous suffering should not exist, but it does. So a god with the three traits of omniscience, omnibenevolence, and omnipotence cannot exist. Therefore, God does not exist.

I also made a case for secular objective morality. My opponent agreed that objective morality exists but bizarrely appeared to make arguments in favour of moral relativism (he denies this, the audience can judge for themselves). I made my argument for objective morality by anchoring it in the intrinsic nature of some human values such as happiness. An intrinsic value can be seen as the ultimate goal of other values that we hold (such as freedom) and is desired for its own sake.

My opponent objected to this idea saying that some people might be made happy by murder. However, the idea of morality is to promote happiness at the level of a society rather than at the level of a single individual. One sadistic person will be made happier, but the person who dies will certainly not be and the effect of his murder on his friends and relatives will also be negative. Additionally, a society in which casual murder is promoted will quickly break down resulting in an overall decrease in the level of happiness for the general population. Some good moral rules to follow in order to promote happiness on a societal level are the Golden Rule: do not to do others which you would not want done to you (Confucius) and the Categorical Imperative: only act in a way that you also will to be the moral law (Kant).

I'd like to thank my opponent for taking the time to participate in this debate and I'd like to thank the people who have taken the time to read through it and make comments. Hopefully we can have more debates on the LoR in future, though I won't be doing another one for a bit!