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Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

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Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God
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Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Proposition: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Affirming: Philosopher
Negating: Commander Eagle

Rules.

Debate analysis thread found here.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:47 am
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PhilosopherUser avatarPosts: 97Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:22 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

I would like to thank everyone involved for making this debate possible.

In this debate, I'm going to present several arguments for the existence of God, a single entity which possesses the traits of omnipotence, omniscience, etc.. These will include the Kalam and Leibnizian cosmological arguments, as well as the moral argument. In order to win this debate, my opponent must show that there is no good evidence for the existence of God.

I will not attempt to deal with objections to theism in this post, lest I attack strawmen. I will respond to my opponent's arguments in my next post.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

This argument is deceptively simply, having only three main premises:

1.Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2.The universe began to exist
3.Therefore, the universe has a cause

The first premise should be intuitively obvious. We don't observe things coming into being without a cause. Nobody lives their life worrying that land mines would suddenly appear around them without a cause, or that an elephant would pop into being in their living room uncaused and out of nothing. The causal premise is rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come out of nothing, "for to come into existence without a cause of any sort is to come into being from nothing." [1] The burden of proof thus lies on the critic of the first premise.

Quantum Events?

Sometimes it has been objected that quantum events furnish a counterexample to the claim that something can come out of nothing. Virtual particles are one such example. However, ignoring the question of whether or not virtual particles even exist, this is not a true example of something coming from nothing. Virtual particles arise out of energy fluctuations within a pre-existing vacuum. Their origin is thus indeterministically caused. Moreover, there are around a dozen competing explanations of quantum mechanics, some of which are deterministic (ie: Bohmian and superdeterminism).

Nothing Begins to Exist?

A rather creative approach that has gained recent popularity in internet circles is to deny that nothing begins to exist at all. According to this objection, since the matter/energy which makes up stuff has always existed, nothing actually begins to exist in the literal sense, it's just a rearrangement of matter. This response is also problematic for the following reasons.

1.This commits the modo hoc version of the fallacy of composition. It fallaciously equates the stuff that a thing is made out of with the thing itself. According to Leibniz's law, two entities are identical if and only if they share all their properties. Take a cup, there are properties true of my cup and are not true of the matter/energy which it is made out of (Roundness, greenness, etc..) [2]

2.This simply presupposes essentialism to be false without any sufficient reason. According to essentialism, entities have essential properties which they could not exist without. For example, the property of being human is essential to my existence.

3.Even if this objection does work, it does not falsify the first premise. At best, it would remove the empirical and experiential support for it, but it does not falsify it. Moreover, there are arguments for the first premise which do not rely on experiential verification.

4.Of course things begin to exist! If nothing begins to exist, then whatever exists has always existed. So let's use my shoe as an example. Say we get into a time machine and travel 100 years back into the past. As I step out, would the premise "This shoe exists now!" be true? Obviously not. While the matter and energy that made up the shoe exists, the shoe itself does not. [3]

Now, let me give a second argument for the first premise. According to David Oderberg, the denial of the first premise leads to a contradiction, he writes:

For what does the critic of the causal principle ask us to believe? , We are asked to countenance the possibility of the following situation: the nonexistence of anything,  followed by the existence of something. , The words "followed by" are crucial , how are they to be interpreted? , What they cannot mean is that there is at one time nothing and at a subsequent time something, because the nonexistence of anything is supposed toinclude time: , to say that at one time there is nothing whatsoever is self-defeating because it is to say that there is a time at which nothing exists , hence something did exist. , But it is hard to see how else we are supposed to understand "followed by"; or when the denier of the causal principle says that it is possible for something to come,  from nothing what are we to understand by "from"? , Again it cannot have a causal sense because something is supposed to have come into existence uncaused. All that appears to be left is a timeless contradiction , the existence of nothing and the existence of something [4]


Now, for the second premise. There are both philosophical and scientific arguments for the beginning of the universe, I will start with the philosophical argument.

It's helpful to first distinguish between actual and potential infinities. , Potential infinities are sets that are constantly increasing toward infinity as a limit, but never attain infinite status. A more accurate description would be to say that their members are indefinite. An actual infinite, by contrast, is a set X that contains a subset X' which is equivalent to X. In other words, it's denumerable. In an actual infinite, a part is as big as the whole. A potentially infinite set would thus be a set in which a part is less than the whole. , "The crucial difference between an infinite set and an indefinite collection would be that the former is conceived as a determinate whole actually possessing an infinite number of members, while the latter never actually attains infinity, although it increases perpetually. We have, then, three types of collection that we must keep conceptually distinct: finite, infinite, and indefinite. [5], Because it leads to contradictions and absurdities, an actually infinite set cannot exist in reality.

There are several examples which illustrate the absurdity of the existence of an actually infinite number of things, the most famous of which is known as Hilbert's paradox of the grand hotel. For the sake of clarity, however, I'll use a simple example used by Craig:

Imagine I had an infinite number of marbles in my possession, and that I wanted to give you some. , In fact, suppose I wanted to give you an infinite number of marbles. , In that case I would have zero marbles left for myself.

However, another way to do it would be to give you all of the odd numbered marbles. , Then I would still have an infinite left over for myself, and you would have an infinite too. , You'd have just as many as I would , and, in fact, each of us would have just as many as I originally had before we divided into odd and even! , Or another approach would be for me to give, you, all the marbles numbered four and higher. , That way, you would have an infinite of, marbles, but I would have only three marbles left.

What these illustrates demonstrate is that the notion of an actual infinite number of things leads to contradictory results. , In my first case in which I gave you all the marbles, infinity minus infinity is zero, in the second case in which I gave you all the odd-numbered marbles, infinity minus infinity is infinity; and in the third case in which I gave you all the marbles numbered four and greater, infinity minus infinity is three. , In each case, we have subtracted the identical number from the identical number, but we have come up with non-identical results. [6]


The point of this example is that arithmetical operations with actually infinite quantities yield contradictory answers, and thus it is metaphysically impossible for actual infinites to exist. , The notion of an actually infinite set is purely conceptual and has no relation to reality. It should be noted here that while one is able to work with actual infinities in set theory and calculus, they existence, in re, is metaphysically impossible. , Their existence is only permitted in mathematics because mathematical operations involving infinite quantities are prohibited. In reality, however, there is nothing stopping someone from adding or subtracting from an infinite quantity of marbles.

Even if actual infinities could exist in reality, they could not be formed by successive addition nor could they be navigated successfully. , It is impossible to form an actually infinite quantity by successive addition, as one can always add another number to what they have counted. , No matter how many times one adds a number to a finite quantity, one will never yield an infinite quantity.

Moreover, it's unclear how one could traverse an actual infinite. Consider, Bertrand, Russell's example of Tristram Shandy, who writes his autobiography at such a slow pace that it takes him a whole year to write about a single day. , If Shandy had been writing for eternity past, then he would be infinitely far behind. Since it is impossible to traverse an actually infinite past, then we should not have arrived at this point. , But since we have, we can conclude that the past duration of the universe was finite.

Scientific Pointers to a Beginning of the Universe

The first indications that the universe was not eternal started to surface in 1917 with the advent of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. Einstein himself was a believer in an eternal universe, and when he saw that his theory of general relativity did not permit such a model, he introduced a "fudge factor" into his equations to maintain an eternal universe. ,  By exploiting the shortcomings of Einstein's model, the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman and the Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaitre independently developed an expanding model of the universe. , Further evidence came in 1929, when astronomer Edwin Hubble confirmed the expanding universe predicted by the Friedman-Lemaitre model through his discovery of redshift. , The fact that the universe was expanding implied that in some point in the past, it was compacted together tightly, for if one reverses the expansion of the universe backwards in time, the universe becomes more and more dense until it reaches a state of infinite density. , This had the jolting conclusion that the universe, over 14 billion years ago, had once been compressed to a size of an infinitely dense point known as a singularity. , Since space and time themselves came into existence at this singularity, it served as a boundary for space-time, as there was no moment "before" the big bang. , Hence, the origin posited by the standard big bang model is that of an absolute origin, ex nihilo., 

Further support came in 2001 with the advent of the BVG theorem. , Physicists Arvind Bord, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe in a state of cosmic expansion must have an absolute beginning point.

Finally, the third premise follows logically from the first two. It should be noted that the cause of the universe must be personal, since it would have to create in the lack of antecedent determining conditions. It must also be timeless (To create time), immaterial (To create matter and energy), and immensely powerful (If not omnipotent).

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

Unlike the Kalam variant, the Leibnizian cosmological argument works even if the universe is eternal. It uses a different causal premise known as the principle of sufficient reason (PSR). This argument relies on the distinction between contingent beings and necessary beings. The argument can be stated as follows:

1.Whatever exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause
2.The universe exists
3.Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence

Suppose you're hiking in the forest and you come across a translucent sphere. Now obviously, there has to be an explanation for why it is there, you would be obtuse if you simply said that it exists inexplicably. Now, suppose we increase the size of that sphere to a car, would it still require an explanation? Yes, arguably even more so. How about if it were the size of a city? It would still need an explanation. How about if it were the size of the universe? It would still need an explanation. Size doesn't matter. If one grants the existence of explanations on the local level, then he must grant the existence of explanations on the grand scale as well.

The second premise is obvious enough, so I'll say nothing about it. The third premise follows logically from the first two. The explanation of the universe must be external to it and must be necessary rather than contingent, otherwise it would just push back the explanatory chain.

Suppose someone objects, "What is God's explanation?" The answer is that his explanation is in the necessity of his own nature. God is a necessary being, by definition he cannot dependent on something else for his existence, or he wouldn't be God. To seek an explanation of God's existence in an outside source is to misunderstand what God is.

But now suppose the skeptic says, "Well, why can't the universe be a necessary being too?" The problem is that there is nothing about the universe which would make us think it's a necessary being. The cosmological evidence suggests that the universe begins to exist. Additionally, the universe could have not existed, making it a contingent rather than a necessary being.

The Moral Argument

Like the previous two, this argument is relatively simple:

1.If objective moral values exist, then God exists
2.Objective moral values exist
3.Therefore, God exists

The main question is of course whether or not objective moral values exist. But what do I mean by objective? Perhaps an example will help. By objective, I mean that the Holocaust would have been wrong even if the Nazis won World War II and successfully brainwashed the entire population into believing that it is. That is, to say that something is objectively wrong is to say that it is wrong regardless of whether or not anyone believes it. [7]

The existence of objective moral values is a properly basic truth, it is as evident as the belief that the external world exists. We intuitively know that it is objectively immoral to torture babies for fun. The burden of proof, therefore, is on the skeptic who disputes that objective moral values exists.

But why should objective moral values require God? Can't they just exist by themselves? The answer to that question lies in the nature of moral values and duties themselves. A duty, as Richard Taylor has said, is something that is owed. But something can only be owed to a person, "there can be no such thing as a duty in isolation." [8] If there were no person to whom these duties were owed, then we would have no reason to obey them. Thus, it's plausible to suppose that objective moral values are rooted in God, who is a personal being.

__________________

Sources

[1], William Lane Craig and James D. Sinclair, "The Kalam Cosmological Argument" in William Lane Craig (ed) and J. P. Moreland (ed),, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009) pp, 182
[2], http://urbanphilosophy.net/philosophy/a-conversion/
[3], Glenn Peoples, Kalam: Does anything at all come into existence? http://www.beretta-online.com/wordpress ... existence/
[4], David Oderberg, Traversal of the Infinite, the "Big Bang" and the Kalam Cosmological Argument', Philosophia Christi 4 (2002): 305-36, 
[5], William Lane Craig and James D. Sinclair, "The Kalam Cosmological Argument", in William Lane Craig and J. P., Moreland, (eds),, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, (Blackwell: 2009) p.105
[6], William Lane Craig, as interviewed by Lee Strobel in, The Case for a Creator, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan 2004) p.103
[7], William Lane Craig, The Indispensability of Theological Meta-ethical Foundations for Morality."http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/meta-eth.html
[8], Richard Taylor, as quoted by Craig, Ibid
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. - Dallas Willard
Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:15 am
Commander EagleUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pmLocation: Green Earth HQ Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

As I am taking the negating position in this debate, the vast majority, if not the entirety, of my posts will be dedicated to presenting rebuttals to Philosopher's arguments. I will not be attempting to present evidence to falsify the hypothesis that a god exists; rather, I will be responding to the claim that there is evidence that he does, and nothing more.

I doubt that either Philosopher or I will succeed in changing the other's mind in this debate, and fully expect this debate to end with a declaration of stalemate; however, there is no harm in civil discussion, and, if nothing else, it is very interesting. I will also attempt to adopt a style similar to Philosopher's well-organized posts, but such a style does not come naturally to me. I sometimes find it difficult to formulate my thoughts in such a matter, and may make use of the technique known as "fisking", which I find much easier. This consists of me breaking my opponent's statements down into small pieces, perhaps a sentence or a paragraph, and responding to those. I will attempt to keep this to a minimum, though, because I understand that many people find it to be unprofessional and annoying.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

This is how Philosopher phrases the Kalam Cosmological Argument for God:

1.Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2.The universe began to exist
3.Therefore, the universe has a cause

There are two main objections to this which I will cover: one, that it is a fallacy of composition, and two, that inserting the idea of a god as a cause is special pleading. There is also a minor point with my opponent's position which I feel needs clarification.

Fallacy of Composition

The fallacy of composition is committed when one uses characteristics of the components to determine the characteristics of the whole. In this case, it takes the form of thinking that the universe must have a cause because everything within it has a cause.
In fact, logic dictates that the universe not only did not have a cause, but it cannot have had a cause. The argument is such:

PREMISE 1. The universe consists of the space-time continuum and everything inside it.
CONCLUSION 1. If the universe does not exist, by definition, time does not exist.
PREMISE 2. Causality cannot exist without time.
CONCLUSION 2. Causality did not exist "before" the universe existed.
CONCLUSION 3. The universe could not have been the result of a causal relationship.

Premise one is not likely to come under dispute, as "the space-time continuum and everything inside it" encompasses everything the entire universe. Conclusion one, likewise, cannot be disputed once premise one has been established. As the universe effectively is time, the non-existence of the universe is equivalent to the non-existence of time.
Premise two follows logically from conclusion one. Causality requires that one thing follow another. If no time is present, there is no time for one event to occur later than another in. As such, no event can cause another, and it can even be argued that no event can take place at all, as it has no time to take place in. Conclusion two is merely a logical extension of conclusion one and premise two. The quotes around "before" are there to denote that there actually was no "before the universe", as, again, there was no time before the universe.
Conclusion three, then, is simply the consequence of conclusion two. Without causality, nothing can be caused. Before the universe, there was no causality, which means that a causal relationship could not have been the source of the universe. The universe cannot have had a cause.

"Nothing Has A Cause"

This part of your argument greatly disappoints me.

3.Even if this objection does work, it does not falsify the first premise. At best, it would remove the empirical and experiential support for it, but it does not falsify it.


You know as well as I do that removal of both empirical and experiential support for an argument renders it useless. I can say that Cthulhu lives on Pluto if I want, but without empirical or experiential support for it, that statement is nothing more than the bare assertion fallacy.

A "Personal Cause"

This is one of the minor points of my opponent's argument that I felt needed addressing:

It should be noted that the cause of the universe must be personal, since it would have to create in the lack of antecedent determining conditions.

This, I feel, requires clarification. What exactly does "create in the lack of antecedent determining conditions" mean? I suspect that this may be nothing more than a missing comma issue, but I want to be sure.

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

Again in Philosopher's phrasing:

1.Whatever exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause
2.The universe exists
3.Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence


The "Necessity of Its Own Nature"

This is another fallacy of composition, though it is different from the one that the Kalam Cosmological Argument commits. According to Leibniz, everything in this universe can be explained through the mechanism of external causation. However, he goes wrong in assuming that the universe itself requires an external cause, rather than being "necessary". This external cause, he posits, is God.

In addition to being both bare assertion and the fallacy of composition, Leibniz's statement is an example of special pleading. Why can the universe not be the "necessary" object? Well, as Philosopher put it:

The problem is that there is nothing about the universe which would make us think it's a necessary being.

Quite. There is absolutely nothing about the universe which would make us think that it is necessary - which puts it on exactly even ground with God.

There is absolutely nothing about God that makes us think that he is necessary, either. The only difference between the two things in the battle for necessity is that we can prove that the universe exists. On the other hand, we cannot prove that God exists. Therefore, to posit God as an explanation for the universe is bare assertion, and a violation of Occam's razor.
And that the universe had a beginning does nothing to falsify this, either, as - like I said above - there was no point in time when the universe did not exist, so to say that the universe did not always exist is meaningless; the universe has existed for all time.

The Moral Argument

1.If objective moral values exist, then God exists
2.Objective moral values exist
3.Therefore, God exists

Like the argument, the rebuttal to this is simple.

Objective moral values do not exist.

Philosopher uses the example that we do not torture babies for fun, as we know that it is wrong. Ignoring for the moment that there have been several truly sick people over the years, this is still not evidence for objective moral values. Moral tendencies are explained perfectly well through natural mechanisms: namely, natural selection.
Natural selection applies to species as well as individuals. Inferior species will die out. And one of the things which can make a species most fit for survival is the tendency to work together and help each other rather than fight.
There are exceptions, of course - there are animal species which each each other, or even their own young - but many species have evolved to not attack each other. Piranha, for example, do not attack each other, even in the midst of a feeding frenzy. Many animals will help an injured pack member. The reason is simple: a species which cooperates is more fit for survival in many situations.

The argument from the Holocaust (all professionalism aside for a moment here; I couldn't help but think Oh Christ, he's Godwined already when I read that :P) also fails, because it fails to make the distinction between our opinions and objective reality.
While I'm sure that the vast majority of those reading the thread, myself included, do not think that the Holocaust was a good thing, this does not mean that it is objectively wrong. It means that we subjectively think that it is wrong. Your argument does not make the distinction between what we think to be wrong (the Holocaust) and what is wrong (nothing; the universe does not care).
The part about the Nazi brainwashing is utterly irrelevant to the discussion, as others' opinions do not affect our own. Nor do they affect objective reality. Our opinions have nothing to do with objective reality.

In short, the argument for the existence of objective morals is completely unfounded.
"Only I can beat me. And I never do."
- Commander Eagle
Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:33 am
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PhilosopherUser avatarPosts: 97Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:22 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Like Commander Eagle, I will do my best to not break down his argument into individual segments.

In response to my opening argument, the charges the Kalam argument by arguing that the universe cannot be caused because causation is inherently temporal. His argument is as follows:

PREMISE 1. The universe consists of the space-time continuum and everything inside it.
CONCLUSION 1. If the universe does not exist, by definition, time does not exist.
PREMISE 2. Causality cannot exist without time.
CONCLUSION 2. Causality did not exist "before" the universe existed.
CONCLUSION 3. The universe could not have been the result of a causal relationship.


Premise 2 seems evidently false. While in our experience we observe that causation requires time, to say that it is a necessary feature of causation is an accidental generalization. The type of causation that would have been operative at the big bang would be simultaneous causation -- one in which the cause is simultaneous, and not prior to, the effect. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant used the example of a bowling ball that has been resting on a pillow for an eternity. Or let's say that I put a cup on the table. As long as an earthquake doesn't happen, the table will hold the cup in place and prevent it from falling. This may look like an example where one succeeding event causes another, but if the cup had been sitting on the table for an eternity, it wouldn't be the case that one event would cause another succeeding event. [1] In the same way, God's causing the universe is simultaneous with it coming to be.

He then moves to criticize one of the points I raised in responding to the "nothing begins to exist" counterargument.

You know as well as I do that removal of both empirical and experiential support for an argument renders it useless. I can say that Cthulhu lives on Pluto if I want, but without empirical or experiential support for it, that statement is nothing more than the bare assertion fallacy.


This is only true if the argument in question is based only on experiential and empirical considerations. In regards to the first premise, this is not true. While the first premise does find support in experiential confirmation, I also gave a non-empirical and non-experiential argument by philosopher David Oderberg which argued that the denial of the first premise in fact entails a contradiction.

Commander Eagle also wants me to clarify on what I meant by "creating in the lack of antecedent determining conditions." I will be happy to do so. The cause of the universe must have been personal, since there were no conditions "prior" to the beginning of the universe which could have determined a natural cause. The cause must have thus freely chosen to create the universe, since there were no conditions "prior" to the beginning of the universe which would have determined a cause. If this isn't clear enough, feel free to ask once again.

Now, let me move on his criticisms of the Leibnizian cosmological argument

This is another fallacy of composition, though it is different from the one that the Kalam Cosmological Argument commits. According to Leibniz, everything in this universe can be explained through the mechanism of external causation. However, he goes wrong in assuming that the universe itself requires an external cause, rather than being "necessary". This external cause, he posits, is God.

[....]

Quite. There is absolutely nothing about the universe which would make us think that it is necessary - which puts it on exactly even ground with God.

[...]

There is absolutely nothing about God that makes us think that he is necessary, either. The only difference between the two things in the battle for necessity is that we can prove that the universe exists. On the other hand, we cannot prove that God exists. Therefore, to posit God as an explanation for the universe is bare assertion, and a violation of Occam's razor.


Commander Eagle's main thrust seems to be that the universe is a necessary being, rather than contingent being. In responding, I want to note several points.

1. Size doesn't matter. As I wrote in my opening post: "Suppose you're hiking in the forest and you come across a translucent sphere. Now obviously, there has to be an explanation for why it is there, you would be obtuse if you simply said that it exists inexplicably. Now, suppose we increase the size of that sphere to a car, would it still require an explanation? Yes, arguably even more so. How about if it were the size of a city? It would still need an explanation. How about if it were the size of the universe? It would still need an explanation. Size doesn't matter. If one grants the existence of explanations on the local level, then he must grant the existence of explanations on the grand scale as well."

2. Commander Eagle argues that there is no reason to suppose that God is necessary. First, let me clear up what I mean by "necessary" and "contingent." In philosophy, the words possible, impossible, necessary, actual, and contingent are used very differently as opposed to how they are used in popular circles. In philosophy, these terms are referred to as modalities and are understood in terms of possible worlds. Something is necessary if and only if it could not fail to exist. Something is contingent, by contrast, if it could fail to exist. Since the universe is a contingent entity (There exists a possible world X in which the universe does not exist), it follows that the universe cannot exist out of the necessity of its own nature and thus requires an external cause. In the case with God, that God is necessarily existent is quite obvious -- by definition, God cannot owe his existence to another being, or else he wouldn't be God. Since God's existence is not dependent on any external cause, it follows that he exists out of the necessity of his own nature.

This, of course, is rather complex. If additional explanation is needed, feel free to ask.

3. It's simply question begging to say that theism violates Ockham's razor. According to Ockham's razor, entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. The theist's very point here is that theism is necessary to explain the existence of the universe. Hence, to invoke Ockham's razor in support of either side is just question-begging.

Finally, I will respond to Commander Eagle's criticism of the moral argument.

Ignoring for the moment that there have been several truly sick people over the years, this is still not evidence for objective moral values. Moral tendencies are explained perfectly well through natural mechanisms: namely, natural selection.
Natural selection applies to species as well as individuals. Inferior species will die out. And one of the things which can make a species most fit for survival is the tendency to work together and help each other rather than fight.
There are exceptions, of course - there are animal species which each each other, or even their own young - but many species have evolved to not attack each other. Piranha, for example, do not attack each other, even in the midst of a feeding frenzy. Many animals will help an injured pack member. The reason is simple: a species which cooperates is more fit for survival in many situations.


1. Commander Eagle attempts to ground ethics within an evolutionary framework. This commits what is called the is-ought or naturalistic fallacy. Biology is by definition descriptive (It describes how things are and how they came to be), whereas ethics is prescriptive (It tells us how we ought to act). One cannot infer prescriptions from descriptions. Simply because X is selectively advantageous does not mean that therefore we ought to do X. Is does not equal ought. Science by definition is barred from answering all moral questions.

Perhaps an example of what the naturalistic fallacy is will help. Suppose that Jones is going to the store. You can't infer the conclusion "Therefore, Jones ought to go to the store" from that premise, because a description does not entail a prescription. Similarly, the fact that X is beneficial toward selection does not mean that we ought to do X. You cannot infer a prescription from a descriptive statement.

2. The fact that there have been sick people over the years who find it perfectly acceptable to torture babies for fun does not diminish the intuitive warrant at all. After all, some people actually believe that we live in a matrix-like world. Does their disagreement therefore give us warrant to doubt our intuition that the external world exists? Of course not. Disagreement does not imply relativity.

3. Commander Eagle did not give us a reason why objective morality does not exist. He simply asserted an alternate explanation -- but an alternate explanation is not a refutation. He needs to show why it is likely that objective moral values do not exist.


Finally, Commander Eagle seems to have completely misunderstood my use of the Holocaust example. I did not intend that as an argument, but as an example of what I meant by the term "objective." It only served to illustrate my position -- It was not an argument.

___________

Sources

[1] -- Analogy borrowed from Michael J. Murray and Michael C. Rea. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (Cambridge University Press: 2008) p.145
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. - Dallas Willard
Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:22 am
Commander EagleUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pmLocation: Green Earth HQ Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Causality

According to Philosopher, it is possible that causality can exist without time:

Premise 2 seems evidently false. While in our experience we observe that causation requires time, to say that it is a necessary feature of causation is an accidental generalization.

But it is not a generalization. Rather, it is simple fact. Causality requires that one event take place after and as a result of another event. Philosopher has conveniently ignored the first part of the definition, but doing so renders reality as we know it moot; events in the past can be the result of events in the future, and two events occurring at exactly the same moment can each be the result of the other. In short, it reduces our universe to an acausal explosion of chaos. Removing causality's requirement that effects take place after causes is both demonstrably wrong (as we can see all around us that cause comes before effect) and a surefire way to destroy everything we know about the universe.

The type of causation that would have been operative at the big bang would be simultaneous causation -- one in which the cause is simultaneous, and not prior to, the effect.

This could be referring to one of two things: the universe's birth or the Big Bang (the two are not equivalent; the Big Bang was something that happened to the universe at the beginning, but it was not the birth of the universe). In the case of the former, this statement is incorrect, because there was no cause. In the case of the latter, it is still incorrect. The Big Bang is as far back in the universal timeline as we can see, but it is not the beginning. In fact, our current understanding of causality requires that the singularity which expanded during the Bang existed for at least a Planck second before "exploding". In neither case did the cause take place at the same time as the effect.

Philosopher has attempted to create a new type of causality with absolutely no basis for doing so. Even were he able to establish the existence of "simultaneous causality", however, it would not help his position. Even simultaneous causality requires that two events occur during the same moment in time. Prior to the existence of the universe, there was no time for two events to take place in. The universe could not have come into existence simultaneously with his god's willing of it. There is no time to measure if two events take place in the same moment or not.

This is only true if the argument in question is based only on experiential and empirical considerations. In regards to the first premise, this is not true. While the first premise does find support in experiential confirmation, I also gave a non-empirical and non-experiential argument by philosopher David Oderberg which argued that the denial of the first premise in fact entails a contradiction.

But Oderberg's argument is likewise flawed. He has taken the limits of the language - namely, that we cannot express "before the universe" without using the word "before" - and taken that to be a concession that time has always existed. This is untrue. It is simply that we cannot express the conditions prior to the existence of the universe in any other fashion due to the limitations of the language we are using.

Another problem with the "nothing has a cause" rebuttal that you present is that it attempts to equivocate between what humans perceive to have been created and what actually has been. Like the moral argument that you present, this is incorrect. You can say that "the shoe was created because its molecules were not all in that position before," but that is meaningless equivocation. The definition of "created" used in that statement and the definition of "created" which is relevant to this debate are two entirely different things. The former means "brought into its present state", while the latter means "brought into being". They are not equivalent, and thus the "everything has a cause for its creation" argument is devoid of support.
Everything in this universe has a reason for why it is in its current state, yes, but there is absolutely no evidence supporting the claim that everything in this universe has a cause for why it exists.

A "Personal Cause"

The cause of the universe must have been personal, since there were no conditions "prior" to the beginning of the universe which could have determined a natural cause.

The latter part of this statement is perfectly true. There were no conditions prior to the universe which could have determined a natural cause. However, there were also no conditions which could have determined a personal cause.

In addition, this argument is nothing but the appeal to magic. In the universe, there is absolutely no evidence for any distinction between "natural" and "personal" causes, or for the existence of free will. This makes the existence of a personal, free-willed cause nothing but bare assertion, as well as being the appeal to magic: since a natural cause couldn't have done it, it must have been a djinn.

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

1. Size doesn't matter.

Where did I dispute this?

Necessity

Since the universe is a contingent entity (There exists a possible world X in which the universe does not exist)

You have evidence to support this?

In addition, Leibniz's argument is still a fallacy of composition. Everything within the universe has, and must have, an explanation for its current state. This does not hold for the universe itself, in the same way that causality does not hold for the universe itself. Leibniz's argument is nothing but bare assertion.

Occam's Razor

It's simply question begging to say that theism violates Ockham's razor. According to Ockham's razor, entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity. The theist's very point here is that theism is necessary to explain the existence of the universe.

And the atheist's argument is that it is not. When there is absolutely no reason to think that the universe cannot be necessary - or, indeed, that the universe is even subject to the argument of necessity - saying that it must be and that, therefore, a magical being exists which is not is a violation of the razor.
All things can be explained within the context of Leibniz's own argument if we simply state that the universe is necessary. To posit the existence of another being with no special qualifications (other than Leibniz's statement that it is necessary, rather than the universe) is bare assertion, and therefore a violation of the razor.

The Argument From Morality

Biology is by definition descriptive (It describes how things are and how they came to be), whereas ethics is prescriptive (It tells us how we ought to act).

And where is the "ought" set in stone? Where is your evidence that the "ought" is anything more than your own opinion?

Simply because X is selectively advantageous does not mean that therefore we ought to do X. Is does not equal ought.

Of course not, because, again, "ought" does not exist objectively. But you are ignoring evolution.

A species which would gain a selective advantage through taking action X in situation Y - for example, helping an injured or disabled pack member - may evolve a tendency towards performing action X in situation Y. This tendency is a result of those packs which do not help injured pack members dying out, while packs which do help injured pack members flourishing. And what way would this tendency towards helping each other manifest itself in the minds of that pack other than a desire to do so? The "ought" is nothing but the desire of the pack members to help each other. It does not exist objectively.

Science by definition is barred from answering all moral questions.

Yes, because morality does not exist objectively. If it did, we could measure and quantify it, rather than it being subject to opinion and social norms.

Perhaps an example of what the naturalistic fallacy is will help. Suppose that Jones is going to the store. You can't infer the conclusion "Therefore, Jones ought to go to the store" from that premise, because a description does not entail a prescription. Similarly, the fact that X is beneficial toward selection does not mean that we ought to do X. You cannot infer a prescription from a descriptive statement.

No one was doing so. My argument is not "Wolves help injured pack members, therefore wolves ought to help injured pack members". Rather, it is "Wolves desire to help injured pack members". That is all. There is no "ought".

The fact that there have been sick people over the years who find it perfectly acceptable to torture babies for fun does not diminish the intuitive warrant at all.

Your argument is, in effect, "Sick people torture babies, but I don't think that's right, and most people don't think that's right, so there must be an objective moral code which says that torturing babies is wrong". Can you see the break in logic here? You cannot leap from "Most people consider torturing babies wrong" to "There is an objective moral code which condemns baby-torturers", especially in light of the known evolutionary tendency towards non-baby-torturing in our species. You need evidence that a moral code exists outside of the confines of your head. So far, you have presented none.

After all, some people actually believe that we live in a matrix-like world. Does their disagreement therefore give us warrant to doubt our intuition that the external world exists? Of course not.

No, it doesn't, for exactly the same reason that your argument for objective morality fails. These people think that we live in a Matrix world of sensation. Their argument fails because they are entirely unable to present evidence for the existence of this Matrix-world outside of their own beliefs and opinions. Your objective moral argument fails for the same reason: you are unable to present evidence for it outside of the confines of your own head.

Commander Eagle did not give us a reason why objective morality does not exist. He simply asserted an alternate explanation -- but an alternate explanation is not a refutation. He needs to show why it is likely that objective moral values do not exist.

Because there is absolutely no evidence for them.

My alternate explanation was not another explanation for objective morality. Rather, it was an explanation for why you might think that there is objective morality. It is not actually a basis for such. If you want to argue in favor of objective morality, you cannot sit there and say "Well, you can't prove that it doesn't exist!" I cannot prove that Cthulhu does not exist. Does this mean that your assertion that he does has any merit? Of course not. The burden of proof is on you.

Finally, Commander Eagle seems to have completely misunderstood my use of the Holocaust example. I did not intend that as an argument, but as an example of what I meant by the term "objective."

And my refutation was an example of why it is not an example of objective morality. That the vast majority of humans consider the Holocaust horrific does not make it objectively wrong.
"Only I can beat me. And I never do."
- Commander Eagle
Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:24 pm
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PhilosopherUser avatarPosts: 97Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:22 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

For the sake of keeping the debate orderly, I'll try to group many of Commander Eagle's posts together. Also, to avoid awkwardness, I will address him in the second person from this point forward. Apologies in advance for any typos or grammatical errors, this post was not thoroughly proofread.

#1 - Criticism of Simultaneous Causation

But it is not a generalization. Rather, it is simple fact. Causality requires that one event take place after and as a result of another event. Philosopher has conveniently ignored the first part of the definition, but doing so renders reality as we know it moot; events in the past can be the result of events in the future, and two events occurring at exactly the same moment can each be the result of the other. In short, it reduces our universe to an acausal explosion of chaos. Removing causality's requirement that effects take place after causes is both demonstrably wrong (as we can see all around us that cause comes before effect) and a surefire way to destroy everything we know about the universe.

This could be referring to one of two things: the universe's birth or the Big Bang (the two are not equivalent; the Big Bang was something that happened to the universe at the beginning, but it was not the birth of the universe). In the case of the former, this statement is incorrect, because there was no cause. In the case of the latter, it is still incorrect. The Big Bang is as far back in the universal timeline as we can see, but it is not the beginning. In fact, our current understanding of causality requires that the singularity which expanded during the Bang existed for at least a Planck second before "exploding". In neither case did the cause take place at the same time as the effect.

Philosopher has attempted to create a new type of causality with absolutely no basis for doing so. Even were he able to establish the existence of "simultaneous causality", however, it would not help his position. Even simultaneous causality requires that two events occur during the same moment in time. Prior to the existence of the universe, there was no time for two events to take place in. The universe could not have come into existence simultaneously with his god's willing of it. There is no time to measure if two events take place in the same moment or not.


You seem to have re-asserted the fact that causality requires time without any justification. Now, while it is true that the type of causality which takes place in the universe is temporal in nature, it doesn't seem that temporality is therefore a necessary condition of causality. You argue that simultaneous causation "reduces our universe to an acausal explosion of chaos." This is simply untrue. In our universe, causation "requires" time because we live in a temporal framework. Remove that framework, and causation can still happen, just not in a temporal framework. That all our examples of causation take place within a temporal framework does not show that causation therefore is necessarily temporal.

There was nothing to dispute the two thought experiments I brought up which demonstrated how causation would work in an atemporal framework. I happen to agree that as long as there is time, then causation must be temporal. However, this says nothing as to whether or not causation can be atemporal. By the way, simultaneous causation isn't something that was invented to conveniently "fix" this issue, it's a legitimate option within causation. Simultaneous causation would have only been operative at the first moment of time. You then argue that even if simultaneous causation were a legitimate option, it would not due because "prior to the existence of the universe, there was no time for two events to take place in." This is half-correct. The moment in which God created the universe would constitute the first moment of time, and hence his creating the universe would be simultaneous with its beginning to exist.

#2 -- David Oderberg's Argument for P1 of the KCA

But Oderberg's argument is likewise flawed. He has taken the limits of the language - namely, that we cannot express "before the universe" without using the word "before" - and taken that to be a concession that time has always existed. This is untrue. It is simply that we cannot express the conditions prior to the existence of the universe in any other fashion due to the limitations of the language we are using.


This seems to me to attack a completely strawman of Oderberg's argument. Oderberg's argument is not that time must have always existed because of our use of language (I don't see how that was inferred from the passage at all) -- but because the principle of something coming from nothing is self-contradictory. Someone who advocates that it is possible for something to come from nothing must argue that the existence of nothing was followed by the existence of something, but this is self-contradictory, since it presupposes a temporal framework in which something exists. What's left is a contradiction -- the existence of something and the existence of nothing (A & ~A).

#3 -- Nothing Begins to Exist?

Another problem with the "nothing has a cause" rebuttal that you present is that it attempts to equivocate between what humans perceive to have been created and what actually has been. Like the moral argument that you present, this is incorrect. You can say that "the shoe was created because its molecules were not all in that position before," but that is meaningless equivocation. The definition of "created" used in that statement and the definition of "created" which is relevant to this debate are two entirely different things. The former means "brought into its present state", while the latter means "brought into being". They are not equivalent, and thus the "everything has a cause for its creation" argument is devoid of support.

Everything in this universe has a reason for why it is in its current state, yes, but there is absolutely no evidence supporting the claim that everything in this universe has a cause for why it exists.


Let me first clear up what I think is just a wordage issue. I'm not sure what the phrase "'nothing has a cause' rebuttal" is supposed to mean -- I offered no such argument. Instead, I offered a pre-emptive attack on the objection that "nothing begins to exist."

Now, you say that I "equivocate between what humans perceive to have been created and what actually has been." This is because the shoe was brought into its present state, whereas the definition of "created" that is essential to my argument involves something being brought into being. First, as I pointed out in my opening post, "This commits the modo hoc version of the fallacy of composition. It fallaciously equates the stuff that a thing is made out of with the thing itself." For example, while the matter which I am made out of was rearranged into a different form, I still began to exist. As I said before, this just equates what I am made out of with who I am. So it seems

In fact, this objection presupposes a radical view of mereology known as mereological nihilism. I see no reason to accept this view, unless you give an argument for it.

#4 -- A Personal Cause

The latter part of this statement is perfectly true. There were no conditions prior to the universe which could have determined a natural cause. However, there were also no conditions which could have determined a personal cause.

In addition, this argument is nothing but the appeal to magic. In the universe, there is absolutely no evidence for any distinction between "natural" and "personal" causes, or for the existence of free will. This makes the existence of a personal, free-willed cause nothing but bare assertion, as well as being the appeal to magic: since a natural cause couldn't have done it, it must have been a djinn.


Several confusions here. While you grant that there were no prior conditions to the universe which could have determined a natural cause, to extend this conclusion to a personal cause is simply wrong. The salient difference between personal causes and natural causes are that personal causes are not always determined by prior conditions -- they act freely of their own will. This is not an appeal to magic, for given that the first two premises are true, then it follows logically that the cause of the universe must have been personal. It could not have been natural, due to the lack of determining conditions.

#5 -- The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

Where did I dispute this?

You have evidence to support this?

In addition, Leibniz's argument is still a fallacy of composition. Everything within the universe has, and must have, an explanation for its current state. This does not hold for the universe itself, in the same way that causality does not hold for the universe itself. Leibniz's argument is nothing but bare assertion.


Several things to note. First, not every instance of part-whole reasoning commits the fallacy of composition. If every part of a chair were green, then it would not be fallacious to conclude that the whole chair is green as well. So you need to do more than just accuse me of a fallacy here, you need to show why the charges should stick. Second, Leibniz's argument does not reason from part-whole -- that attacks a strawman. Leibniz's argument is that whatever exists (part or whole alike) has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. Third, the FoC charge simply doesn't hold if the universe is a contingent entity. Something is contingent if its non-existence is possible. Using possible worlds semantics, we can say that there exists a possible world P in which the universe exists. Since there exists no internal contradiction in this notion, it follows logically that the universe is contingent and thus requires an explanation.

And the atheist's argument is that it is not. When there is absolutely no reason to think that the universe cannot be necessary - or, indeed, that the universe is even subject to the argument of necessity - saying that it must be and that, therefore, a magical being exists which is not is a violation of the razor.
All things can be explained within the context of Leibniz's own argument if we simply state that the universe is necessary. To posit the existence of another being with no special qualifications (other than Leibniz's statement that it is necessary, rather than the universe) is bare assertion, and therefore a violation of the razor.


Indeed, the atheist's argument is that it is not, but that is equally fallacious. Recall what I wrote earlier, "the theist's very point here is that theism is necessary to explain the existence of the universe. Hence, to invoke Ockham's razor in support of either side is just question-begging."

You can't trot in Ockham's razor when the very issue we're debating is what is necessary to explain the phenomena that we have, it would be question-begging for either side.

#6 -- The Moral Argument

I will respond in one "chunk," since it seems your main argument is that objective moral values do not exist.

Your argument is, in effect, "Sick people torture babies, but I don't think that's right, and most people don't think that's right, so there must be an objective moral code which says that torturing babies is wrong". Can you see the break in logic here? You cannot leap from "Most people consider torturing babies wrong" to "There is an objective moral code which condemns baby-torturers", especially in light of the known evolutionary tendency towards non-baby-torturing in our species. You need evidence that a moral code exists outside of the confines of your head. So far, you have presented none.

No, it doesn't, for exactly the same reason that your argument for objective morality fails. These people think that we live in a Matrix world of sensation. Their argument fails because they are entirely unable to present evidence for the existence of this Matrix-world outside of their own beliefs and opinions. Your objective moral argument fails for the same reason: you are unable to present evidence for it outside of the confines of your own head.

Because there is absolutely no evidence for them.

My alternate explanation was not another explanation for objective morality. Rather, it was an explanation for why you might think that there is objective morality. It is not actually a basis for such. If you want to argue in favor of objective morality, you cannot sit there and say "Well, you can't prove that it doesn't exist!" I cannot prove that Cthulhu does not exist. Does this mean that your assertion that he does has any merit? Of course not. The burden of proof is on you.


Several things here.

1) Your argument which purports to show "why you might think that there is objective morality" fails because it commits the genetic fallacy. The origins of an idea do not invalidate it. Indeed, this argument can be reversed against you. Perhaps the reason why evolution gave us a sense of moral code is precisely because there is a moral code out there. If you reply that evolution did in fact select the false belief in objective morality because it was selectively advantageous, then who is to say that it didn't select for other false beliefs, which would potentially destroy the foundations for rationality since evolution would only be selecting for what what was pragmatic and not what was true. [1] Whether or not this reversal is sound is besides the point -- In short, this argument can be employed both ways. Not to mention the fact that it commits the genetic fallacy.

2) The burden of proof is not on the believer in objective morality, but on the skeptic. Why is this? Because the idea that objective morality exists has a higher probability given the background evidence than does the idea that morality is relative given the background evidence. It has a wider explanatory scope because it is more able to explain the fact that we have an intuition which tells us that some things are just objectively wrong and the fact that a wide range of cultures have the same basic moral framework. Indeed, belief in objective morality is the default position. It is as evident as the belief that the external world exists. The skeptic of objective morality must deny what many see to be obvious, and thus he owes us an explanation (He bears the burden of proof) of why objective morality does not exist (Note that explaining it in terms of evolution says nothing about whether or not it exists, see above).

3) The evidence for objective morality, which I have already presented, is our moral intuition. Absent some reason to doubt what our moral intuitions tell us, we should presume them to be correct (This is called prima facie reliability). Is it not obvious that it is wrong to torture babies for fun, that we should treat others fairly, and that it is wrong to cheat others? If you deny that, then you owe us an explanation as to why morality is not objective. The skeptic of objective morality is like the person who insists that we live in a matrix-like world -- he denies the seemingly obvious fact that it is objectively wrong to torture babies for fun, and thus he owes us an explanation. Writes Paul Copan:

"It seems that the credulity principle is appropriate with regard to both our sense perceptions and our moral intuitions/perceptions: both are innocent until proven guilty. I am wise to accept their testimony unless I have an overriding reason to doubt them. Moreover, given the logical possibility of being morally or epistemically misguided does not entail comprehensive skepticism regarding such perceptions. There is no need to take such epistemic and moral skepticism with radical seriousness." [2]

Thus, in the absence of reasons to deny that morality is objective, it is reasonable to suppose that it indeed is.
_____________

Notes

[1] -- Some philosophers have developed this into an argument. C. S. Lewis and Victor Reppert have formulated what is called the "argument from reason" and Alvin Plantinga has developed the "evolutionary argument against naturalism."
[2] -- Paul Copan, "The Moral Argument" in Paul Copan and Paul K. Moser (eds), The Rationality of Theism (Routledge) p.152
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. - Dallas Willard
Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:04 am
PhilosopherUser avatarPosts: 97Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:22 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Let me correct a little mistake in my previous post. I wrote

we can say that there exists a possible world P in which the universe exists. Since there exists no internal contradiction in this notion, it follows logically that the universe is contingent and thus requires an explanation.


It should read: we can say that there exists a possible world P in which the universe does not exist. Since there exists no internal contradiction in this notion, it follows logically that the universe is contingent and thus requires an explanation.
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. - Dallas Willard
Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:04 am
Commander EagleUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pmLocation: Green Earth HQ Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Causality and Simultaneous Causation

Philosopher wrote:#1 - Criticism of Simultaneous Causation

You seem to have re-asserted the fact that causality requires time without any justification. Now, while it is true that the type of causality which takes place in the universe is temporal in nature, it doesn't seem that temporality is therefore a necessary condition of causality. You argue that simultaneous causation "reduces our universe to an acausal explosion of chaos." This is simply untrue. In our universe, causation "requires" time because we live in a temporal framework. Remove that framework, and causation can still happen, just not in a temporal framework. That all our examples of causation take place within a temporal framework does not show that causation therefore is necessarily temporal.

Except that it does. I explained this in my last post. By definition, causality requires time. If you wish to posit that an event can cause a simultaneous event, present your evidence. Likewise, if you wish to assert that causality can occur without time, present your evidence.

There was nothing to dispute the two thought experiments I brought up which demonstrated how causation would work in an atemporal framework. I happen to agree that as long as there is time, then causation must be temporal. However, this says nothing as to whether or not causation can be atemporal.

Except that, by definition, causation cannot be atemporal.

By the way, simultaneous causation isn't something that was invented to conveniently "fix" this issue, it's a legitimate option within causation.

No, it isn't. If you wish to suggest that it is, present your evidence.

Simultaneous causation would have only been operative at the first moment of time.

What magical thing, then, allows it to operate within the first Planck second of universal birth and at no other point?

You then argue that even if simultaneous causation were a legitimate option, it would not due because "prior to the existence of the universe, there was no time for two events to take place in." This is half-correct. The moment in which God created the universe would constitute the first moment of time, and hence his creating the universe would be simultaneous with its beginning to exist.

This doesn't work. For God to begin creating the universe, he has to start before the universe existed - unless you wish to assert that your god made use of simultaneous causation in creating the universe, which you still have not shown to be possible.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

#2 -- David Oderberg's Argument for P1 of the KCA

But Oderberg's argument is likewise flawed. He has taken the limits of the language - namely, that we cannot express "before the universe" without using the word "before" - and taken that to be a concession that time has always existed. This is untrue. It is simply that we cannot express the conditions prior to the existence of the universe in any other fashion due to the limitations of the language we are using.


This seems to me to attack a completely strawman of Oderberg's argument. Oderberg's argument is not that time must have always existed because of our use of language (I don't see how that was inferred from the passage at all) -- but because the principle of something coming from nothing is self-contradictory.

His argument is this:

For what does the critic of the causal principle ask us to believe? We are asked to countenance the possibility of the following situation: the nonexistence of anything followed by the existence of something. The words "followed by" are crucial , how are they to be interpreted? What they cannot mean is that there is at one time nothing and at a subsequent time something, because the nonexistence of anything is supposed toinclude time: to say that at one time there is nothing whatsoever is self-defeating because it is to say that there is a time at which nothing exists , hence something did exist.

This is, indeed, an argument that "something from nothing" is contradictory - but its basis is in the limitations of the language. You can see it yourself in the bolded part of the argument. Oderberg essentially argues that there can never have been nothing, but the entire basis of this argument is that we must use the phrase "followed by" to express the transition from nothing to something. In fact, there was no such transition, but we have no way of expressing this in the English language. There was never nothing, because there was never a time when the universe did not exist.

Someone who advocates that it is possible for something to come from nothing must argue that the existence of nothing was followed by the existence of something, but this is self-contradictory, since it presupposes a temporal framework in which something exists. What's left is a contradiction -- the existence of something and the existence of nothing (A & ~A).

But Oderberg is himself strawmanning. He is taking the limitations of the language as the argument itself. The argument is not truly that there was nothing, then something; it is that, because of the lack of time "prior" to the universe, there is no need for a cause, because "nothing" is not subject to the temporal laws the govern our universe.

The Beginning of Existence

Another problem with the "nothing has a cause" rebuttal that you present is that it attempts to equivocate between what humans perceive to have been created and what actually has been. Like the moral argument that you present, this is incorrect. You can say that "the shoe was created because its molecules were not all in that position before," but that is meaningless equivocation. The definition of "created" used in that statement and the definition of "created" which is relevant to this debate are two entirely different things. The former means "brought into its present state", while the latter means "brought into being". They are not equivalent, and thus the "everything has a cause for its creation" argument is devoid of support.

Everything in this universe has a reason for why it is in its current state, yes, but there is absolutely no evidence supporting the claim that everything in this universe has a cause for why it exists.


Let me first clear up what I think is just a wordage issue. I'm not sure what the phrase "'nothing has a cause' rebuttal" is supposed to mean -- I offered no such argument. Instead, I offered a pre-emptive attack on the objection that "nothing begins to exist."

Yes, which is what I was referring to.

Now, you say that I "equivocate between what humans perceive to have been created and what actually has been." This is because the shoe was brought into its present state, whereas the definition of "created" that is essential to my argument involves something being brought into being. First, as I pointed out in my opening post, "This commits the modo hoc version of the fallacy of composition. It fallaciously equates the stuff that a thing is made out of with the thing itself."

Hardly. Again, you are using a different definition of "begins to exist" than the one that is actually relevant to this argument. The shoe did not exist in that form prior to the moment of its "creation", but it did exist in another form - the molecular form, the one which matters for the purpose of this discussion.
Stop trying to equivocate.

For example, while the matter which I am made out of was rearranged into a different form, I still began to exist. As I said before, this just equates what I am made out of with who I am.

Again, you are equivocating between two definitions of "began to exist", one which is relevant to this argument and one which is not. You "began to exist" in the sense that the molecules comprising your being took on their current form. You did not begin to exist in the sense that the molecules comprising your being popped into existence, which is the relevant definition of "began to exist".

In fact, this objection presupposes a radical view of mereology known as mereological nihilism. I see no reason to accept this view, unless you give an argument for it.

No, it does not presuppose mereological nihilism. Whether or not parts and wholes come into being is irrelevant to this discussion, because, whatever your definition of "part" or "whole", these objects are made up of particles which came into existence at the beginning of the universe - unless you'd like to violate the laws of conservation, that is - and that is the only "comes into existence" definition that is relevant here.

"Personal Cause"

The latter part of this statement is perfectly true. There were no conditions prior to the universe which could have determined a natural cause. However, there were also no conditions which could have determined a personal cause.

In addition, this argument is nothing but the appeal to magic. In the universe, there is absolutely no evidence for any distinction between "natural" and "personal" causes, or for the existence of free will. This makes the existence of a personal, free-willed cause nothing but bare assertion, as well as being the appeal to magic: since a natural cause couldn't have done it, it must have been a djinn.


Several confusions here. While you grant that there were no prior conditions to the universe which could have determined a natural cause, to extend this conclusion to a personal cause is simply wrong. The salient difference between personal causes and natural causes are that personal causes are not always determined by prior conditions -- they act freely of their own will.

And your evidence to support the existence of free will is...?

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

Several things to note. First, not every instance of part-whole reasoning commits the fallacy of composition.

Where did I say that it did?

So you need to do more than just accuse me of a fallacy here, you need to show why the charges should stick.

Because you have no evidence to support your claim that the universe as a whole is subject to the same laws that govern the things inside it.

Second, Leibniz's argument does not reason from part-whole -- that attacks a strawman. Leibniz's argument is that whatever exists (part or whole alike) has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

Except that it does: he sees that everything inside the universe has an explanation for its current condition, and so reasons that the universe must as well. In addition to being part-whole reasoning, this is entirely unsupported, and as of yet you have yet to present any evidence for it.

Third, the FoC charge simply doesn't hold if the universe is a contingent entity. Something is contingent if its non-existence is possible. Using possible worlds semantics, we can say that there exists a possible world P in which the universe does not exist. Since there exists no internal contradiction in this notion, it follows logically that the universe is contingent and thus requires an explanation.

Then we can say that there exists a possible world P in which your god does not exist. Since there is no internal contradiction here, it follows logically that he is therefore a contingent entity requiring an explanation.

This gets you nowhere. It leads only into an infinite regression. You need evidence that the universe is contingent upon something, not just bare assertion.

And the atheist's argument is that it is not. When there is absolutely no reason to think that the universe cannot be necessary - or, indeed, that the universe is even subject to the argument of necessity - saying that it must be and that, therefore, a magical being exists which is not is a violation of the razor.
All things can be explained within the context of Leibniz's own argument if we simply state that the universe is necessary. To posit the existence of another being with no special qualifications (other than Leibniz's statement that it is necessary, rather than the universe) is bare assertion, and therefore a violation of the razor.


Indeed, the atheist's argument is that it is not, but that is equally fallacious. Recall what I wrote earlier, "the theist's very point here is that theism is necessary to explain the existence of the universe. Hence, to invoke Ockham's razor in support of either side is just question-begging."

You can't trot in Ockham's razor when the very issue we're debating is what is necessary to explain the phenomena that we have, it would be question-begging for either side.

Except that I have just shown that it would not be. There is absolutely no reason to believe that a) the universe is even subject to the necessary explanation argument or b) that the universe cannot be necessary if it is subject to this argument. You have not yet provided a single piece of evidence that it is subject or contingent.

The Argument From Morality

Your argument which purports to show "why you might think that there is objective morality" fails because it commits the genetic fallacy. The origins of an idea do not invalidate it.

I never said that they did. I said that the appearance of objective morality can be explained quite easily without the need for an objective moral code. You are strawmanning.

Indeed, this argument can be reversed against you. Perhaps the reason why evolution gave us a sense of moral code is precisely because there is a moral code out there.

Then give evidence for the existence of this moral code. Evolution explains the existence of the appearance of an objective moral code quite neatly without the need for an actual code of objective morals. If you wish to posit the existence of such a code, you need evidence.

If you reply that evolution did in fact select the false belief in objective morality because it was selectively advantageous, then who is to say that it didn't select for other false beliefs, which would potentially destroy the foundations for rationality since evolution would only be selecting for what what was pragmatic and not what was true.

Who said that evolution selected for a belief in objective morality? Certainly not me. I said that evolution selected for tendencies which we perceive as moral. It also selected for rationality, but humans aren't perfectly rational, which is why we take the existence of actions which we perceive as immoral or moral as evidence of an objective moral code.

Whether or not this reversal is sound is besides the point

Uh... no, it isn't. If the reversed argument is invalid, then you can't use it as a rebuttal - and it is invalid.

The burden of proof is not on the believer in objective morality, but on the skeptic. Why is this? Because the idea that objective morality exists has a higher probability given the background evidence than does the idea that morality is relative given the background evidence.

No, it isn't, and no, it doesn't.

The burden of proof is always on the one making the positive claim. "Objective morality exists" is a positive claim. That means that the burden of proof is on you to prove that it exists.
And the "background evidence" that you are talking about is simply that there are some actions which we perceive as moral and immoral. This is perfectly well accounted for under a subjective moral system. Or do you have some evidence which cannot be accounted for with subjective morality?

It has a wider explanatory scope because it is more able to explain the fact that we have an intuition which tells us that some things are just objectively wrong and the fact that a wide range of cultures have the same basic moral framework.

No, objective morality does not have a higher explanatory power than subjective morality given the background evidence. The background evidence is simply that there are some actions which we perceive as moral and immoral, and that people believe this to be evidence of objective morality. This is exactly what one would expect given subjective morality, as evolution would give us tendencies towards at least vaguely similar moral codes - but it does not actually mean that objective morality exists. If you wish to say that there is an objective moral code of some kind, you need evidence - without that, saying that morality is objective is nothing but bare assertion, as well as another violation of Occam's razor, as everything is perfectly well-explained without the need for an objective code.

This brings us to another flaw in your argument: you have not defined objective morality. What would be the differences between a world with subjective morality and a world with objective morality? In other words, what evidence do you see that cannot be explained through subjective morality?

Indeed, belief in objective morality is the default position.

Even if it were, being the default position does not save it from the fact that it has no supporting evidence.

It is as evident as the belief that the external world exists. The skeptic of objective morality must deny what many see to be obvious, and thus he owes us an explanation (He bears the burden of proof) of why objective morality does not exist (Note that explaining it in terms of evolution says nothing about whether or not it exists, see above)
.

Fine. The case against objective morality:

1. Everything to do with morality, including the appearance of objective morality, is perfectly well-explained under a subjective moral system.

2. Objective morality requires the existence of an outside code and code-maker, the existence of neither of which has been proven - or even suggested - by the evidence.

The evidence for objective morality, which I have already presented, is our moral intuition.

Which, again, is perfectly well-explained under a subjective moral system with absolutely no outside requirements. Since your system is the one which posits the existence of outside codes, the burden is on you to prove the existence of these codes.

Absent some reason to doubt what our moral intuitions tell us, we should presume them to be correct (This is called prima facie reliability).

Correct subjectively. The universe doesn't care. Our moral intuitions are correct for us, and probably for most other humans, but the universe has no morals.

Is it not obvious that it is wrong to torture babies for fun, that we should treat others fairly, and that it is wrong to cheat others? If you deny that, then you owe us an explanation as to why morality is not objective.

You are still failing to appreciate the difference between appearance of an objective code and existence of an objective code. The appearance of an objective code is also perfectly well explained under a subjective moral system. The objective moral system is the one positing the existence of an outside force which determines the moral correctness of actions; it is up to its proponents to prove the existence of said force.

The skeptic of objective morality is like the person who insists that we live in a matrix-like world -- he denies the seemingly obvious fact that it is objectively wrong to torture babies for fun, and thus he owes us an explanation.

"Obvious fact"? Hardly. This is nothing more than the appeal to emotion. You don't want it to be objectively neutral if someone tortures babies for fun, but what you want and what is are not the same. Objectively, I observe no more reaction from the universe if a baby is tortured than if I breathe. Objectively, I observe that not everyone thinks that it is wrong to torture babies. Objectively, I observe that the tendency of humans to believe that torturing babies is wrong is perfectly well explained through natural means.
And, also objectively, I note that you are attempting to shift the burden of proof onto me with no justification for doing so. You posit the existence of an objective moral code. You prove that it exists.

Thus, in the absence of reasons to deny that morality is objective, it is reasonable to suppose that it indeed is.

Thus, in the absence of reasons to deny that leprechauns exist, it is reasonable to suppose that they indeed do. If the existence of objective morality is so easily established, then you should be able to do so in a single paragraph. All you have to do is present your evidence that an objective moral code exists. So far, you have not presented anything that is not explained by subjective morality - which requires no entities which cannot be proven to exist.

----------------------------------

On another note, I have noticed people asking for me to use sources in the debate analysis thread. I can't cite sources because I am not using any sources. My arguments are my own.
"Only I can beat me. And I never do."
- Commander Eagle
Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:31 pm
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PhilosopherUser avatarPosts: 97Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:22 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

As per my previous response, I will group many of your responses together and respond "chunks" rather than a line-by-line analysis. If you want a more specific answer to a particular point, let me know.

#1 - Criticism of Simultaneous Causation

You write;

Except that it does. I explained this in my last post. By definition, causality requires time. If you wish to posit that an event can cause a simultaneous event, present your evidence. Likewise, if you wish to assert that causality can occur without time, present your evidence.

Except that, by definition, causation cannot be atemporal.

No, it isn't. If you wish to suggest that it is, present your evidence.

This doesn't work. For God to begin creating the universe, he has to start before the universe existed - unless you wish to assert that your god made use of simultaneous causation in creating the universe, which you still have not shown to be possible.


I still have not seen you tackle the thought experiments I raised in my second post -- that was my evidence. Let me briefly restate them. Suppose I put a cup on the table. As long as an earthquake doesn't happen, the table will hold the cup in place and prevent it from falling. This may look like an example where one succeeding event causes another, but if the cup had been sitting on the table for an eternity, it wouldn't be the case that one event would cause another succeeding event. [1] In this thought experiment, the type of causation that would have been operative would be simultaneous causation. In the same way, God's causing the universe is simultaneous with it coming to be. At T1, God both creates the universe and the universe comes into being. Writes Craig,

"In any case, there seems to be no conceptual difficulty in saying that the cause of the origin of the universe acted simultaneously (or coincidentally) with the origination of the universe. We should therefore say that the cause of the origin of the universe is causally prior to the Big Bang, though not temporally prior to the Big Bang. In such a case, the cause may be said to exist spacelessly and timelessly sans the universe, but temporally subsequent to the moment of creation." [2]



You also write,

What magical thing, then, allows it to operate within the first Planck second of universal birth and at no other point?


This just misunderstands what simultaneous causation is. Given the existence of time, then all causation must take place within a temporal framework, since all events would take place sequentially. Simultaneous causation only works in the absence of time, since in such a scenario all events would not take place sequentially.

#2 -- The Kalam Cosmological Argument

A. Oderberg's Argument for P1.

You write,

This is, indeed, an argument that "something from nothing" is contradictory - but its basis is in the limitations of the language. You can see it yourself in the bolded part of the argument. Oderberg essentially argues that there can never have been nothing, but the entire basis of this argument is that we must use the phrase "followed by" to express the transition from nothing to something. In fact, there was no such transition, but we have no way of expressing this in the English language. There was never nothing, because there was never a time when the universe did not exist.

But Oderberg is himself strawmanning. He is taking the limitations of the language as the argument itself. The argument is not truly that there was nothing, then something; it is that, because of the lack of time "prior" to the universe, there is no need for a cause, because "nothing" is not subject to the temporal laws the govern our universe.


Once again, this completely misses the point of what Oderberg is saying. He focuses on the phrase "followed by" not to give an argument based on semantics, but to illustrate a point by emphasis (We can take those words out and his point would still stand). His point is that someone who denies the first premise must either affirm a state of affairs in which something exists (He used the phrase "followed by" to illustrate this), or a state of affairs in which something and nothing exists. Basically, somebody who says that something can come from nothing must either affirm either: 1) there was at one time nothing and at a subsequent time something or 2) there is something and nothing. It cannot be the first, since the scenario presupposes the existence of time (and in which case, there wouldn't really be literally nothing). So then it must be the second . However, it also cannot be the second because it entails a contradictory state of affairs (There exists nothing and there exists something). Thus, the first premise is a logically necessary truth -- its denial implies a contradiction.

Perhaps a clearner formulation will help you see what Oderberg is saying. Basically, the person who denies the first premise must affirm that something can come out of nothing. This claim implies either

1. There was nothing, and then there was something
2. There is nothing and there is something.

Now, according to Oderberg, it can't be the first, since it presupposes a temporal state of affairs in which something exists. So then it must be the second. But, it can't be the second because it's self-contradictory (A & ~A). Therefore, the first premise is true. This point is fairly easy to grasp and absolutely nothing to do with semantics.

On to the "nothing begins to exist" and "equivocation" objection... You accuse the argument of equivocating:

Hardly. Again, you are using a different definition of "begins to exist" than the one that is actually relevant to this argument. The shoe did not exist in that form prior to the moment of its "creation", but it did exist in another form - the molecular form, the one which matters for the purpose of this discussion.
Stop trying to equivocate.

Again, you are equivocating between two definitions of "began to exist", one which is relevant to this argument and one which is not. You "began to exist" in the sense that the molecules comprising your being took on their current form. You did not begin to exist in the sense that the molecules comprising your being popped into existence, which is the relevant definition of "began to exist".



No equivocation is taking place. The term "cause" is used univocally. That is, the argument defines a "cause" as simply something which brings about or produces a effect. It doesn't matter whether or not this effect is produced out of previous matter or out of no matter -- they're still both effects, just different types. So as long as an effect in general is being produced, the premise holds. Writes Craig: "Whether this production involves transformation or already existing materials or creation out of nothing is an incidental question." [3] This is a pointless charge.

No, it does not presuppose mereological nihilism. Whether or not parts and wholes come into being is irrelevant to this discussion, because, whatever your definition of "part" or "whole", these objects are made up of particles which came into existence at the beginning of the universe - unless you'd like to violate the laws of conservation, that is - and that is the only "comes into existence" definition that is relevant here.


If we're referring to the "nothing begins to exist" objection, then yes, it does presuppose mereological nihilism. Since, on this objection, what a thing is identical to what it is made out of. According to the proponent of this objection, things such as chairs, tables, cups, cars, and people do not really exist... they're simply different arrangements of matter that we give an arbitrary name -- only the basic building blocks (matter) exist. This is almost a textbook definition of mereological nihilism -- since objects with parts don't really exist.

In response to the idea of a personal cause, you write

And your evidence to support the existence of free will is...?


This just misunderstands the whole point. In this particular scenario, I don't need evidence, since the existence of a being with free will is logically necessitated by the conditions. An example will help. Suppose my friend Joe and I come across a door with a hole in it. I exclaim "In order to get in, we're going to have to find a key to fit in the lock!" My friend Joe replies "No, prove that keys exist!" Clearly, this is wrongheaded. Putting aside the question of whether or not free will exists, the KCA requires that a being with free will be the cause, since that's the only type of cause that will fit given that there were no antecedent determining conditions.

#3 - The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

You wrote,

Where did I say that it did?

Because you have no evidence to support your claim that the universe as a whole is subject to the same laws that govern the things inside it.

Except that it does: he sees that everything inside the universe has an explanation for its current condition, and so reasons that the universe must as well. In addition to being part-whole reasoning, this is entirely unsupported, and as of yet you have yet to present any evidence for it.

Then we can say that there exists a possible world P in which your god does not exist. Since there is no internal contradiction here, it follows logically that he is therefore a contingent entity requiring an explanation.

This gets you nowhere. It leads only into an infinite regression. You need evidence that the universe is contingent upon something, not just bare assertion.

Except that I have just shown that it would not be. There is absolutely no reason to believe that a) the universe is even subject to the necessary explanation argument or b) that the universe cannot be necessary if it is subject to this argument. You have not yet provided a single piece of evidence that it is subject or contingent.


I never implied that you said that all part-whole reasoning was fallacious. But, in the way in which you used the FoC objection, clearly you thought this use was fallacious. So, how exactly is reasoning from part to whole in this case fallacious? As I demonstrated in my previous post, not all examples of part-whole reasoning is wrong, so I would like to know [iwhy[/i] it is wrong in this particular instance. Simply because it reasons from part to whole does not immediately make it fallacious.

Now, I have given evidence that the universe is contingent. Philosophers use possible worlds to express modal claims(contingent, necessary, etc...). Something is contingent if it could fail to exist (Ie: it does not exist on at least one possible world). Something is necessary it it cannot fail to exist (Ie: it exists on all possible worlds). Now, the universe could conceivably have failed to exist. Therefore, it does not exist on some possible world P. God by definition cannot fail to exist, and so God exists necessarily.

But you might object, as you have done, that God could have failed to exist, and therefore, God is contingent. This objection fails to appreciate the distinction between epistemic and metaphysical possibility. Epistemically, it is possible that God does not exist, but metaphysically, such a statement is impossible by virtue of God's essence. Now, there seems to be nothing about the universe both epistemically or metaphysically (Unless you wish to show me) which makes it necessarily existence, and thus we are warranted in believing that the universe exists contingently.

#4 -- The Moral Argument

You wrote,

I never said that they did. I said that the appearance of objective morality can be explained quite easily without the need for an objective moral code. You are strawmanning.

Then give evidence for the existence of this moral code. Evolution explains the existence of the appearance of an objective moral code quite neatly without the need for an actual code of objective morals. If you wish to posit the existence of such a code, you need evidence.

Who said that evolution selected for a belief in objective morality? Certainly not me. I said that evolution selected for tendencies which we perceive as moral. It also selected for rationality, but humans aren't perfectly rational, which is why we take the existence of actions which we perceive as immoral or moral as evidence of an objective moral code.
[


You keep insisting that I have not given any proof when I have. My proof was quite simply the proper basicality of our moral intuitions. Our moral intuitions strongly tell us that torturing babies for fun is wrong. My argument is that in the absence of a sufficient reason to doubt our moral faculties, we are justified in believing them. The burden of proof is therefore on you (I'll get to the burden of proof issue within a minute). Now, you brought up evolution as an alternate explanation for why we tend to believe some things were objectively right/wrong. However, an alternate explanation is not a refutation. You need to show that your explanation is more probable than mine. Recall that I wrote:

"Because the idea that objective morality exists has a higher probability given the background evidence than does the idea that morality is relative given the background evidence. It has a wider explanatory scope because it is more able to explain the fact that we have an intuition which tells us that some things are just objectively wrong and the fact that a wide range of cultures have the same basic moral framework. Indeed, belief in objective morality is the default position... The skeptic of objective morality must deny what many see to be obvious, and thus he owes us an explanation (He bears the burden of proof) of why objective morality does not exist."

The first point in my previous response was spot on. If you intended to use evolution to explain why we believe some things to be moral (and thus show that morality isn't really objective, but some evolutionary byproduct), then you commit the genetic fallacy. Your response was something along the lines of "Objective morality doesn't really exist, it just appears that way because evolution selected for tendencies which we perceive as moral." If that is indeed how you're arguing, then it confuses the origin of an idea with the soundness of it, thus committing the genetic fallacy.

Now for the burden of proof, most of your points here are just repeated throughout your response:

The burden of proof is always on the one making the positive claim. "Objective morality exists" is a positive claim. That means that the burden of proof is on you to prove that it exists.
And the "background evidence" that you are talking about is simply that there are some actions which we perceive as moral and immoral. This is perfectly well accounted for under a subjective moral system. Or do you have some evidence which cannot be accounted for with subjective morality?

No, objective morality does not have a higher explanatory power than subjective morality given the background evidence. The background evidence is simply that there are some actions which we perceive as moral and immoral, and that people believe this to be evidence of objective morality. This is exactly what one would expect given subjective morality, as evolution would give us tendencies towards at least vaguely similar moral codes - but it does not actually mean that objective morality exists. If you wish to say that there is an objective moral code of some kind, you need evidence - without that, saying that morality is objective is nothing but bare assertion, as well as another violation of Occam's razor, as everything is perfectly well-explained without the need for an objective code.

Which, again, is perfectly well-explained under a subjective moral system with absolutely no outside requirements. Since your system is the one which posits the existence of outside codes, the burden is on you to prove the existence of these codes.

You are still failing to appreciate the difference between appearance of an objective code and existence of an objective code. The appearance of an objective code is also perfectly well explained under a subjective moral system. The objective moral system is the one positing the existence of an outside force which determines the moral correctness of actions; it is up to its proponents to prove the existence of said force.

Obvious fact"? Hardly. This is nothing more than the appeal to emotion. You don't want it to be objectively neutral if someone tortures babies for fun, but what you want and what is are not the same. Objectively, I observe no more reaction from the universe if a baby is tortured than if I breathe. Objectively, I observe that not everyone thinks that it is wrong to torture babies. Objectively, I observe that the tendency of humans to believe that torturing babies is wrong is perfectly well explained through natural means.
And, also objectively, I note that you are attempting to shift the burden of proof onto me with no justification for doing so. You posit the existence of an objective moral code. You prove that it exists.


Generally, but not always. If the claim being made is a properly basic (ie: self-evident) claim, then one doesn't shoulder the burden of proof. If I claimed that we were not created five minutes ago with food in our stomachs and memories in our brains, I don't have to prove it -- it's self-evident. Rather, it's the skeptic who has to prove his claim. So the type of claim being made matters. In this case, the claim "Objective morality exists" is rather self-evident -- even if you don't believe it exists, you can't doubt that our moral intuition tells us that certain things (ie: torturing babies for fun) is just wrong.

Now, you completely misunderstand what I mean by background evidence here. Let me first give an example. Let's say I'm walking on the sidewalk and I spot a tree. Several things can explain this. First, the reason I see a tree could just be that there is really a tree. Or, it could be that I am being deceived by an evil demon into thinking that there is a tree when there really isn't. Which does the better job? The former, obviously.

Our background evidence is the existence of beings who have moral faculties which seem to suggest that right and wrong really exist. Can objective morality explain this? Yes. Can subjective morality explain this? Yes. Both can -- but which does a better job? The former, since it does not deny what appears to be obvious to so many people. It has greater explanatory power and a greater explanatory scope. Does this violate Ockham's razor? No, because all things are not equal Objective morality has more explanatory power.

So, the default position is that of belief in objective morality, meaning you have the burden of proof.

This brings us to another flaw in your argument: you have not defined objective morality. What would be the differences between a world with subjective morality and a world with objective morality? In other words, what evidence do you see that cannot be explained through subjective morality?


If you read my first post carefully, I did define it -- you apparently misread my definition and treated it as an argument. So let me repeat it:

But what do I mean by objective? Perhaps an example will help. By objective, I mean that the Holocaust would have been wrong even if the Nazis won World War II and successfully brainwashed the entire population into believing that it is. That is, to say that something is objectively wrong is to say that it is wrong regardless of whether or not anyone believes it.

Now, you present two short arguments against moral objectivism

1. Everything to do with morality, including the appearance of objective morality, is perfectly well-explained under a subjective moral system.

2. Objective morality requires the existence of an outside code and code-maker, the existence of neither of which has been proven - or even suggested - by the evidence.


1. Correct, a subjective moral system also explains the appearance of objective morality. But, an objective moral system better explains why we take many things to be objectively right/wrong. Once again, an alternate explanation is not a refutation -- you have to show it to be plausible.

2. This is just blatant question-begging. The very argument in question is supposed to demonstrate that, you just presupposed it to be false. A harmless example will illustrate my point. Suppose I'm hiking in the woods with a buddy and I come across a message in a bottle that asks for help. I exclaim "Somebody must have written this message, we have to rescue him!" My buddy, in response, argues "No, that message requires the existence of a message writer, the existence of which has not been proven!" You can spot the obvious mistake in that.

Correct subjectively. The universe doesn't care. Our moral intuitions are correct for us, and probably for most other humans, but the universe has no morals.


Oh come on, this is just completely circular. The very fact we're debating is whether or not there are moral facts to be discovered. You can't just assert that there are no morals to prove that there are no morals.


______________

[1] -- Analogy borrowed from Michael J. Murray and Michael C. Rea. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (Cambridge University Press: 2008) p.145
[2] -- William Lane Craig, Creation and Big Bang Cosmology, http://www.lea
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. - Dallas Willard
Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:52 am
Commander EagleUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pmLocation: Green Earth HQ Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Causality

I still have not seen you tackle the thought experiments I raised in my second post -- that was my evidence.


Thought experiments are not evidence.

Let me briefly restate them. Suppose I put a cup on the table. As long as an earthquake doesn't happen, the table will hold the cup in place and prevent it from falling. This may look like an example where one succeeding event causes another, but if the cup had been sitting on the table for an eternity, it wouldn't be the case that one event would cause another succeeding event. [1] In this thought experiment, the type of causation that would have been operative would be simultaneous causation. In the same way, God's causing the universe is simultaneous with it coming to be. At T1, God both creates the universe and the universe comes into being.

The flaw with this experiment is that the cup cannot have been sitting on the table for eternity, as this would require an infinite amount of time to have passed before it is interacted with. As this cannot happen, the entire experiment is invalid.

Writes Craig,

"In any case, there seems to be no conceptual difficulty in saying that the cause of the origin of the universe acted simultaneously (or coincidentally) with the origination of the universe. We should therefore say that the cause of the origin of the universe is causally prior to the Big Bang, though not temporally prior to the Big Bang. In such a case, the cause may be said to exist spacelessly and timelessly sans the universe, but temporally subsequent to the moment of creation." [2]

And Craig makes the same error that you do - positing the existence of a magical type of causality which does not rely on time without any justification for doing so.

This just misunderstands what simultaneous causation is. Given the existence of time, then all causation must take place within a temporal framework, since all events would take place sequentially. Simultaneous causation only works in the absence of time, since in such a scenario all events would not take place sequentially.

As I have explained before, "causation that works in the absence of time" is a contradiction in terms. So far, you have given us absolutely no reason to think that such a thing is even logically possible, let alone that it actually exists.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Once again, this completely misses the point of what Oderberg is saying. He focuses on the phrase "followed by" not to give an argument based on semantics, but to illustrate a point by emphasis (We can take those words out and his point would still stand). His point is that someone who denies the first premise must either affirm a state of affairs in which something exists (He used the phrase "followed by" to illustrate this), or a state of affairs in which something and nothing exists. Basically, somebody who says that something can come from nothing must either affirm either: 1) there was at one time nothing and at a subsequent time something or 2) there is something and nothing. It cannot be the first, since the scenario presupposes the existence of time (and in which case, there wouldn't really be literally nothing). So then it must be the second . However, it also cannot be the second because it entails a contradictory state of affairs (There exists nothing and there exists something). Thus, the first premise is a logically necessary truth -- its denial implies a contradiction.

Perhaps a clearner formulation will help you see what Oderberg is saying. Basically, the person who denies the first premise must affirm that something can come out of nothing. This claim implies either

1. There was nothing, and then there was something
2. There is nothing and there is something.

Now, according to Oderberg, it can't be the first, since it presupposes a temporal state of affairs in which something exists. So then it must be the second. But, it can't be the second because it's self-contradictory (A & ~A). Therefore, the first premise is true. This point is fairly easy to grasp and absolutely nothing to do with semantics.

No, it has everything to do with semantics, but now I grasp why you were objecting to it. It's my fault - I failed to get my point across.

Oderberg states, like you said, that

the person who denies the first premise must affirm that something can come out of nothing. This claim implies either

1. There was nothing, and then there was something
2. There is nothing and there is something.

But this is not what is being argued by the person who objects to the first premise. Rather, they argue this:

1. There was no point in time (note the difference between this and "no time") when the universe did not exist
2. As there is no point in time when the universe did not exist, asking what the cause of the universe was is pointless, because there was no time for a cause to have taken place in

The first conclusion - that there was nothing and then something - is false by definition, because without time you cannot have a "then". So there must be a third option, one which you are ignoring - namely, that there was never nothing.

And this is true. There was never a point in time in which nothing existed. For the only definition of "forever" which matters, the universe has existed forever, and not only requires no explanation but denies the possibility of one entirely.

Equivocation

No equivocation is taking place. The term "cause" is used univocally. That is, the argument defines a "cause" as simply something which brings about or produces a effect.

Then you are using a definition of "cause" which is absolutely irrelevant to this discussion. The definition of "cause" which matters here is "a thing which brings another into existence". You cannot take an example of something which fits your definition of cause and apply it to a discussion using the other definition.

It doesn't matter whether or not this effect is produced out of previous matter or out of no matter -- they're still both effects, just different types.

Again, yes, it does matter. Now you are equivocating between "comes into being" definitions again. The one which matters here is "comes into existence out of nothing". The one you are attempting to equivocate to is "takes on its current form".

If we're referring to the "nothing begins to exist" objection, then yes, it does presuppose mereological nihilism. Since, on this objection, what a thing is identical to what it is made out of. According to the proponent of this objection, things such as chairs, tables, cups, cars, and people do not really exist... they're simply different arrangements of matter that we give an arbitrary name -- only the basic building blocks (matter) exist. This is almost a textbook definition of mereological nihilism -- since objects with parts don't really exist.

No. It is entirely irrelevant to this discussion.

Again you equivocate between two different definitions of "comes into being". The one that is relevant here is "comes into existence from nothing". The one that is irrelevant is "comes into its current form as a rearrangement of pre-existing matter and energy". Parts and wholes fall under the second definition. Whether or not they really exist is pointless to discuss, because they fall under the second definition, which is not the one that is relevant to this discussion.

This just misunderstands the whole point. In this particular scenario, I don't need evidence

Nonsense.

since the existence of a being with free will is logically necessitated by the conditions.

Being logically necessitated is evidence. However, you have yet to establish that it is logically possible, let alone necessitated. So you still need evidence.

Part-To-Whole Reasoning in the Leibniz Argument

So, how exactly is reasoning from part to whole in this case fallacious?

I have explained this before. We perceive things as subject to these rules because they exist within time. The universe does not exist within time. You are trying to apply one trait of everything within the universe (having an explanation) to the universe itself while ignoring another trait that everything in the universe shares - being subject to time.
The universe is not subject to time. It cannot have an explanation.

Now, I have given evidence that the universe is contingent. Philosophers use possible worlds to express modal claims(contingent, necessary, etc...). Something is contingent if it could fail to exist (Ie: it does not exist on at least one possible world). Something is necessary it it cannot fail to exist (Ie: it exists on all possible worlds). Now, the universe could conceivably have failed to exist. Therefore, it does not exist on some possible world P. God by definition cannot fail to exist, and so God exists necessarily.

You are assuming your conclusion(s). You must prove that the universe has some possible world P where it does not exist and that God exists on all possible worlds. You cannot simply state that they do.

But you might object, as you have done, that God could have failed to exist, and therefore, God is contingent. This objection fails to appreciate the distinction between epistemic and metaphysical possibility. Epistemically, it is possible that God does not exist, but metaphysically, such a statement is impossible by virtue of God's essence.

So, basically, it's impossible because you say so and God is magic.

Yay.

Any real evidence? Or even justification for saying that "God's essence makes it impossible for him to not exist"?

Now, there seems to be nothing about the universe both epistemically or metaphysically (Unless you wish to show me) which makes it necessarily existence, and thus we are warranted in believing that the universe exists contingently.

Simple.

The universe exists.

Therefore, we have knowledge of one entity: the universe.

It is possible that this entity is either contingent or necessary.

We have no evidence that any other entity exists.

The evidence suggests that the universe is necessary.

You keep insisting that I have not given any proof when I have. My proof was quite simply the proper basicality of our moral intuitions. Our moral intuitions strongly tell us that torturing babies for fun is wrong. My argument is that in the absence of a sufficient reason to doubt our moral faculties, we are justified in believing them.

And I affirmed this, with the slight modification that we are justified in believing that they are subjectively correct. We can never perceive any morals other than our own, which gives them the veneer of objectivity - but they are not actually objective.

Now, you brought up evolution as an alternate explanation for why we tend to believe some things were objectively right/wrong. However, an alternate explanation is not a refutation. You need to show that your explanation is more probable than mine.

And I did. The subjective explanation accounts for everything that we see in the world to do with morality. It explains why we have morals and why they appear to be objective, all without the need for anything that cannot be objectively proven to exist.

Your explanation requires objective proof of something which has not been proven to exist.

The burden of proof is on you.

The first point in my previous response was spot on. If you intended to use evolution to explain why we believe some things to be moral (and thus show that morality isn't really objective, but some evolutionary byproduct), then you commit the genetic fallacy. Your response was something along the lines of "Objective morality doesn't really exist, it just appears that way because evolution selected for tendencies which we perceive as moral." If that is indeed how you're arguing, then it confuses the origin of an idea with the soundness of it, thus committing the genetic fallacy.

No, I haven't, because that isn't my argument. I argue:

"Objective morality does not exist. There is no evidence for it. "

Evolution is not a refutation of the entirety of objective morality. It is a refutation of your argument that an appearance of objectivity is evidence of objectivity. Evolution explains this appearance of objectivity in an entirely subjective framework, so an appearance of objectivity is not evidence for objectivity. You need something more.

Generally, but not always. If the claim being made is a properly basic (ie: self-evident) claim, then one doesn't shoulder the burden of proof. If I claimed that we were not created five minutes ago with food in our stomachs and memories in our brains, I don't have to prove it -- it's self-evident. Rather, it's the skeptic who has to prove his claim. So the type of claim being made matters.

I never claimed otherwise.

In this case, the claim "Objective morality exists" is rather self-evident -- even if you don't believe it exists, you can't doubt that our moral intuition tells us that certain things (ie: torturing babies for fun) is just wrong.

This is a total non sequitur. The bolded part of your sentence is entirely irrelevant. You might as well say that "In this case, the claim "Objective morality exists" is rather self-evident -- pancakes are tasty." That you subjectively believe that torturing babies is wrong is not evidence for objective morality. Neither is the fact that society at large believes the same thing, because evolution explains how this could occur without the need for any new things like your objective code.

Now, you completely misunderstand what I mean by background evidence here. Let me first give an example. Let's say I'm walking on the sidewalk and I spot a tree. Several things can explain this. First, the reason I see a tree could just be that there is really a tree. Or, it could be that I am being deceived by an evil demon into thinking that there is a tree when there really isn't. Which does the better job? The former, obviously.

Yes. Now you look at morality. You see that it isn't the same across all people, but rather that many people have many different ideas of what it is - like looking at a cloud, no one sees the same picture that no one else does. You might look at premarital sex, for example, and think that it is immoral, while someone else might not. On the other hand, everyone is going to see a tree.
This differing moral picture is exactly what we would expect if morality were subjective. If you wish to prove that morality is objective, you need evidence.

Our background evidence is the existence of beings who have moral faculties which seem to suggest that right and wrong really exist. Can objective morality explain this? Yes. Can subjective morality explain this? Yes. Both can -- but which does a better job? The former, since it does not deny what appears to be obvious to so many people.

Argument ad populum fallacy.

It has greater explanatory power and a greater explanatory scope.

No, it doesn't. Objective morality explains absolutely zilch that subjective morality doesn't.

So, the default position is that of belief in objective morality, meaning you have the burden of proof.

No. As I have explained above, there is absolutely no evidence in favor of objective morality. Your entire argument rests on the thin veneer of objectivity which our brains give to us, but this is perfectly well explained under a subjectively moral framework.

In short, you have absolutely no evidence.

But what do I mean by objective? Perhaps an example will help. By objective, I mean that the Holocaust would have been wrong even if the Nazis won World War II and successfully brainwashed the entire population into believing that it is.

And you have absolutely no evidence to support this assertion. "Wrong" in whose eyes? The universe's? The universe doesn't care.

1. Correct, a subjective moral system also explains the appearance of objective morality. But, an objective moral system better explains why we take many things to be objectively right/wrong,

No, it doesn't. In fact, it explains it more poorly, because it posits that there is some magic force in the universe which determines what is right and wrong and somehow beams this information into our heads. You need evidence to support that assertion.

2. This is just blatant question-begging. The very argument in question is supposed to demonstrate that, you just presupposed it to be false. A harmless example will illustrate my point. Suppose I'm hiking in the woods with a buddy and I come across a message in a bottle that asks for help. I exclaim "Somebody must have written this message, we have to rescue him!" My buddy, in response, argues "No, that message requires the existence of a message writer, the existence of which has not been proven!" You can spot the obvious mistake in that.

False analogy. The message is not concrete and differs from person to person, though there's a slight tendency towards seeing something similar. You aren't coming across a message in the woods, you are coming across a field of mushrooms that sort of spell out the words "HELP ME" if you squint and tilt your head, and your buddy is seeing the words "HELD ME".

Oh come on, this is just completely circular. The very fact we're debating is whether or not there are moral facts to be discovered. You can't just assert that there are no morals to prove that there are no morals.

I admit the mistake.

And now, the Commander needs to rest his thinkin' stuff.. I apologize if I seem snippy in this post. I haven't gotten much sleep for the past two nights, and I haven't had a very good day.
"Only I can beat me. And I never do."
- Commander Eagle
Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:32 am
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PhilosopherUser avatarPosts: 97Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:22 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

NOTE: Due to some events associated with the upcoming 4th of July celebrations, I might be unable to post a reply within the allotted time frame. If that turns out to be the case, I ask that the moderators please consider granting me a 24 hour extension.

Thanks.
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. - Dallas Willard
Fri Jul 02, 2010 8:17 am
Commander EagleUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pmLocation: Green Earth HQ Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Sudden schedule change. I may not be able to post today. Can I ask that the deadline be extended until, say, six pm tomorrow?
"Only I can beat me. And I never do."
- Commander Eagle
Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:20 pm
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AndromedasWakeAdministratorUser avatarPosts: 598Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:38 pmLocation: Captain's Chair, League HQ Gender: Cake

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

As both parties are unable to post today (Friday 2nd July) time has been extended for Philosopher's (affirming) next reply. Please post on Saturday at the latest.
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Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:03 pm
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PhilosopherUser avatarPosts: 97Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:22 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Like my previous posts, I will group together many of your points and respond in chunks. Also, just a heads-up, I would prefer you do the same (Or at least, respond to larger portions instead of line by line). Many of my points are interconnected, and when you separate them into line by line portions, most of what I'm saying is either lost or misinterpreted. Just a suggestion.

Moreover, this post has not been proofread. Any spelling/grammar mistakes are my fault.

Causality

You write,

Thought experiments are not evidence.

The flaw with this experiment is that the cup cannot have been sitting on the table for eternity, as this would require an infinite amount of time to have passed before it is interacted with. As this cannot happen, the entire experiment is invalid.

And Craig makes the same error that you do - positing the existence of a magical type of causality which does not rely on time without any justification for doing so.

As I have explained before, "causation that works in the absence of time" is a contradiction in terms. So far, you have given us absolutely no reason to think that such a thing is even logically, possible, let alone that it actually exists.



On the contrary, thought experiments do constitute evidence. My use of a thought experiment was to show that simultaneous causation is a logically coherent concept. Thought experiments, moreover, do not have to conform to our physical reality (That's the very point of a thought experiment, it just has to be logically coherent), so your criticism of it is completely off-base. It is conceptually possible to imagine some possible state of affairs in which a cup and table have existed eternally. Simultaneous causation is therefore possible.

Now, keep in mind that in order to show that simultaneous causation is impossible, you have to show that it is self-contradictory. As so long as the concept is internally coherent (ie: possible), then it is not true that causation is only temporal, rendering your argument unsound.

Oderberg's Argument

But this is not what is being argued by the person who objects to the first premise. Rather, they argue this:

1. There was no, point in time, (note the difference between this and "no time") when the universe did not exist
2. As there is no point in time when the universe did not exist, asking what the cause of the universe was is pointless, because there was no time for a cause to have taken place in

The first conclusion - that there was nothing and then something - is false by definition, because without time you cannot have a "then". So there must be a third option, one which you are ignoring - namely, that there was never nothing.

And this is true. There, was, never a point in time in which nothing existed. For the only definition of "forever" which matters, the universe has existed forever, and not only requires no explanation but denies the possibility of one entirely.


You're attacking the wrong premise, this has nothing to do with the first premise. The first premise is "Whatever begins to exist has a cause." The negation of that premise is "It is not true that whatever begins to exist has a cause," meaning that the critic of the first premise must believe that things can pop into existence ex nihilo. The criticism which you are voicing is thus not directed toward the first premise, but the second premise. The negation of the second premise is "It is not true that the universe began to exist." The points you elaborated on above, rather than attacking the first premise, actually attacks the second (Since they allege that the universe has always existed)

Once again you just seem to have completely misunderstood Oderberg's argument. His argument is intended for those who believe that something can come from nothing, it says nothing about whether or not the universe began to exist.

Equivocation
Then you are using a definition of "cause" which is absolutely irrelevant to this discussion. The definition of "cause" which matters here is "a thing which brings another into existence". You cannot take an example of something which fits, your, definition of cause and apply it to a discussion using the other definition., 

Again, yes, it, does, matter. Now you are equivocating between "comes into being" definitions again. The one which matters here is "comes into existence out of nothing". The one you are attempting to equivocate to is "takes on its current form".


Not at all. As Craig and other defenders of the argument has stated, the definition of "cause" as employed by the argument is simply something which produces an effect, regardless of whether or not that effect is out of nothing or out of pre-existing materials. The first premise only states that an efficient cause is necessary, not a material cause. Whether or not a material cause happens to be present has nothing to do with the first premise.

Now, it does happen to be the case that the ex nihilo creation would have been operative at the beginning of the universe as opposed to re-arrangement out of pre-existing materials, but that only means that the causal premise should be construed in terms of having an efficient cause. Whether or not a material cause is also present is irrelevant, the bare minimum is an efficient cause.

No. It is entirely irrelevant to this discussion., 

Again you equivocate between two different definitions of "comes into being". The one that is relevant here is "comes into existence from nothing". The one that is, irrelevant, is "comes into its current form as a rearrangement of pre-existing matter and energy". Parts and wholes fall under the second definition. Whether or not they really exist is pointless to discuss, because they fall under the second definition, which is not the one that is relevant to this discussion., 


See above. You misinterpreted my point, I was responding to the "nothing begins to exist" objection, whereas you were criticizing that section on a completely separate issue.

A Personal Being

Nonsense.

Being logically necessitated is evidence. However, you have yet to establish that it is logically, possible, let alone necessitated. So you still need evidence.


The evidence itself is the KCA. If the first two premises of the KCA are sound, then the conclusion must entail the existence of a being with free will. You're essentially saying "Even if the KCA is sound, you still need to prove that God exists", that's the very point of the KCA's third premise. I don't see what the problem here is, it's simply reasoning


The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument and the Compositional Fallacy

I have explained this before. We perceive things as subject to these rules because they exist within time. The universe does not exist within time. You are trying to apply one trait of everything within the universe (having an explanation) to the universe itself while ignoring another trait that everything in the universe shares - being subject to time.
The universe is not subject to time. It cannot have an explanation.

You are assuming your conclusion(s). You must prove that the universe has some possible world, P, where it does not exist and that God exists on all possible worlds. You cannot simply state that they do.

So, basically, it's impossible because you say so and God is magic., 

Yay.

Any real evidence? Or even justification for saying that "God's essence makes it impossible for him to not exist"?


First, you confuse an explanation with a cause, the two are completely different. Even if I grant for the sake of argument that the universe is eternal, it would still need an explanation. It wouldn't need a cause per se, but it would still need an explanation.

Second, it seems you misunderstand how possible world semantics works. As so long as the universe's non-existence is possible, then there exists a possible world in which it does not exist. In the case with God, he by definition is necessarily existent, his existence is not contingent upon anything. It's like asking me to prove that circles are square or that bachelors are unmarried, it's true by definition. We have no reason to suppose that the universe is necessarily existent. You argue in response:

The universe exists., 

Therefore, we have knowledge of one entity: the universe.

It is possible that this entity is either contingent or necessary.

We have no evidence that any other entity exists.

The evidence suggests that the universe is necessary.


This argument isn't even valid, let alone sound. Even if no other entity exists, it does not follow that the universe is necessarily existent. To be necessarily existent is to exist in all possible state of affairs. Moreover, what evidence? You stated what there exists evidence, but you failed to tell me what this evidence is. It seems to me that you don't understand what possible worlds semantics are (I would suggest reading the Wikipedia entry).

The Moral Argument

And I affirmed this, with the slight modification that we are justified in believing that they are, subjectively correct. We can never perceive any morals other than our own, which gives them the veneer of objectivity -, but they are not actually objective.


That's the problem, why aren't they actually objective? Imagine that I used this same argument in response to sense experience. Someone says "My sense experience tells me that there is a tree in front of me." Applying the same line of argument, it would follow that one is not justified in believing that there objectively exists a tree in front of him. Obviously, unless we have other reasons to believe otherwise, we are more justified in believing that morality is actually objective.

To argue that they are not actually objective despite the strong appearance otherwise, it seems to me, is to beg the question.

And I did. The subjective explanation accounts for everything that we see in the world to do with morality. It explains why we have morals and why they appear to be objective, all without the need for anything that cannot be objectively proven to exist.

Your explanation requires objective proof of something which has not been proven to exist.

The burden of proof is on you.

This is a total, non sequitur. The bolded part of your sentence is entirely irrelevant. You might as well say that "In this case, the claim "Objective morality exists" is rather self-evident -- pancakes are tasty." That you subjectively believe that torturing babies is wrong is not evidence for objective morality. Neither is the fact that society at large believes the same thing, because evolution explains how this could occur without the need for any new things like your objective code.

No, it doesn't. In fact, it explains it more poorly, because it posits that there is some magic force in the universe which determines what is right and wrong and somehow beams this information into our heads. You need evidence to support that assertion.



The subjective explanation does provide a reason for why we think morality to be objective, but the objective explanation provides an even better explanation, that they actually are objective. Yes, it posits the existence of God, but to say that we have no evidence for God is to beg the question, since that's what the moral argument is supposed to do. In other words, you just presupposed your conclusions.

This is not a non-sequitur at all. That something strongly appears to be one way should give us at least prima facie justification to believe that perhaps it actually is that way. For example, if I see a tree in front of me, I am justified in believing that there actually is a tree in front of me. Sure, it could be a subjective illusion produced by my mind, but the better explanation is that it's actually there.

No, I haven't, because that isn't my argument. I argue:

"Objective morality does not exist. There is no evidence for it. "

Evolution is not a refutation of the entirety of objective morality. It is a refutation of your argument that an appearance of objectivity is evidence of objectivity. Evolution explains this appearance of objectivity in an entirely subjective framework, so an, appearance, of objectivity is not evidence for objectivity. You need something more.


I never claimed it was a refutation of objective morality. Instead, I said that it commits the genetic fallacy because it attempts to explain why we believe in objective morality in terms of certain evolutionary traits. But explaining something away on the basis of how we came to believe in it just commits the genetic fallacy. Secondly, while evolution does purport to give an explanation of why we believe in objective morality, you have not shown that explanation to be true.

Moreover, your explanation seems to beg the question in that it presupposes in advance that objective morality does not exist and then purports to give an explanation for why we believe things to be objectively moral/immoral. You must first show that it does not exist before you give an explanation of we why come to believe in it, otherwise every attempt will commit the genetic fallacy.

Yes. Now you look at morality. You see that it isn't the same across all people, but rather that many people have many different ideas of what it is - like looking at a cloud, no one sees the same picture that no one else does. You might look at premarital sex, for example, and think that it is immoral, while someone else might not. On the other hand, everyone is going to see a tree.


It's rather disengenious to focus on moral grey areas while ignoring the clear areas of agreement. Most, if not all societies agree on a basic moral code which includes truths such as "Lying is wrong," "Murder is wrong," "Stealing is wrong," "Be fair" etc... People are of course going to differ on the finer aspects of morality, but this provides no reason at all to believe that morality is subjective. Imagine three people, one claims to see a UFO in the sky, another a plane, and another a helicopter Should we conclude that because their responses are contradictory, that there wasn't anything in the sky? Surely there was something, but the witnesses disagreed on the finer aspects of it. The same with morality.

Argument ad populum, fallacy.

No, it doesn't. Objective morality explains absolutely zilch that subjective morality doesn't., 


Firstly, ad populum arguments are not fallacious when they are used to establish the burden of proof. Secondly, objective morality has greater explanatory power in that it affirms that objective morality actually exists over the subjective explanation, which claims that morality is is merely an illusion. They may explain the same phenomena, but their explanatory power is quite different.

And you have absolutely no evidence to support this assertion. "Wrong" in whose eyes? The universe's? The universe doesn't care.


Seriously? Once again, this is not an argument, this is a definition. I was not giving an argument, but an illustration of what I mean by objective. I do not care whether or not the illustration is true/false (Though I think it's an obvious truth), it just serves to illustrate what my position is.

False analogy. The message is not concrete and differs from person to person, though there's a slight tendency towards seeing something similar. You aren't coming across a message in the woods, you are coming across a field of mushrooms that sort of spell out the words "HELP ME" if you squint and tilt your head, and your buddy is seeing the words "HELD ME".


This completely misses the point of the analogy, you're attacking another subject matter. What I'm saying is that the moral argument proves the existence of God via objective moral values. It would be question begging for you to argue "Objective moral values exist only if God exists, and since there's no evidence that God exists, objective moral values don't exist," since the very fact we're arguing over is whether or not objective morality constitutes evidence for God.
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. - Dallas Willard
Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:06 pm
PhilosopherUser avatarPosts: 97Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:22 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

As it has been 24 hours since my last reply and no additional extension has been granted, I ask that this debate be closed.
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. - Dallas Willard
Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:41 pm
Commander EagleUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pmLocation: Green Earth HQ Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Apologies, it's the fourth of July and I had a party sprung on me. This has been my first opportunity to access a computer all day. Can I ask that the above request be denied, and the deadline extended until six tomorrow?
"Only I can beat me. And I never do."
- Commander Eagle
Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:13 am
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PhilosopherUser avatarPosts: 97Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:22 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Well, it's fine with me 8-)
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can be almost as stupid as a cabbage, as long as you doubt. - Dallas Willard
Mon Jul 05, 2010 2:51 am
Commander EagleUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pmLocation: Green Earth HQ Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Philosopher wrote:Well, it's fine with me 8-)

Yeah, my apologies. My family doesn't usually celebrate the Fourth beyond a big lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers and some fireworks once the sun goes down. But I got a call that morning from some other relatives who had come into town, and who were throwing a party at another relatives' house (he was pretty surprised, too).

Anyway. I'm working on my reply right now, and it'll be up before I go to sleep tonight. It's going slowly, though, due to some more unforeseen circumstances. Family members taking sick has messed with my schedule more than I thought it would. But it'll be up tonight.
"Only I can beat me. And I never do."
- Commander Eagle
Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:31 pm
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Commander EagleUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pmLocation: Green Earth HQ Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Post will be up in fifteen minutes or so.
"Only I can beat me. And I never do."
- Commander Eagle
Tue Jul 06, 2010 2:21 am
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Commander EagleUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:58 pmLocation: Green Earth HQ Gender: Male

Post Re: Debate: There is good evidence for the existence of God

Causality

[quote=Philosopher]
Thought experiments are not evidence.

The flaw with this experiment is that the cup cannot have been sitting on the table for eternity, as this would require an infinite amount of time to have passed before it is interacted with. As this cannot happen, the entire experiment is invalid.

And Craig makes the same error that you do - positing the existence of a magical type of causality which does not rely on time without any justification for doing so.

As I have explained before, "causation that works in the absence of time" is a contradiction in terms. So far, you have given us absolutely no reason to think that such a thing is even logically, possible, let alone that it actually exists.


On the contrary, thought experiments do constitute evidence.[/quote]
You misunderstand me. I am not talking about thought experiments being evidence of it being possible. The point of this debate is for you to present evidence that simultaneous causation actually happened. A thought experiment is not evidence in that context.

Thought experiments, moreover, do not have to conform to our physical reality (That's the very point of a thought experiment, it just has to be logically coherent), so your criticism of it is completely off-base.

Not really. If a thought experiment does not conform to our physical reality, then it is useless to us in the context of providing evidence that such a thing not only can but did occur in our physical reality. You need actual evidence, not hypothetical situations.

It is conceptually possible to imagine some possible state of affairs in which a cup and table have existed eternally.

Yes, it is, but this state of affairs cannot exist within our universe. That experiment does not apply here.

Simultaneous causation is therefore possible.

Not within our universe, it isn't. The thought experiment which you use to justify this statement does not apply here. We do not have an infinite expanse of time for a cup and table to exist.

Now, keep in mind that in order to show that simultaneous causation is impossible, you have to show that it is self-contradictory.

Why should I try to show it to be impossible? I am trying to, yes (I find this part of the discussion interesting), but that is beside the point. Whether or not it is possible doesn't affect this debate in the slightest. You don't have to show that it is possible. You have to show that it actually happened.

For the sake of simplicity, though, we can drop the entire discussion on its possibility; perhaps we could move it to another thread, though. I apologize for going off on a tangent like that, but I think that it is a very interesting concept.

Oderberg's Argument

But this is not what is being argued by the person who objects to the first premise. Rather, they argue this:

1. There was no, point in time, (note the difference between this and "no time") when the universe did not exist
2. As there is no point in time when the universe did not exist, asking what the cause of the universe was is pointless, because there was no time for a cause to have taken place in

The first conclusion - that there was nothing and then something - is false by definition, because without time you cannot have a "then". So there must be a third option, one which you are ignoring - namely, that there was never nothing.

And this is true. There, was, never a point in time in which nothing existed. For the only definition of "forever" which matters, the universe has existed forever, and not only requires no explanation but denies the possibility of one entirely.


You're attacking the wrong premise, this has nothing to do with the first premise. The first premise is "Whatever begins to exist has a cause." The negation of that premise is "It is not true that whatever begins to exist has a cause," meaning that the critic of the first premise must believe that things can pop into existence ex nihilo. The criticism which you are voicing is thus not directed toward the first premise, but the second premise. The negation of the second premise is "It is not true that the universe began to exist." The points you elaborated on above, rather than attacking the first premise, actually attacks the second (Since they allege that the universe has always existed)

No. An equally valid negation of the premise is the simple "Nothing begins to exist", which renders the first premise unsound, as it is nothing but bare assertion.

Even if your objection here had merit, it isn't an actual refutation. It is a nitpick. That the argument negates the second premise as well as the first makes it no less of a death blow to your position.

Once again you just seem to have completely misunderstood Oderberg's argument. His argument is intended for those who believe that something can come from nothing, it says nothing about whether or not the universe began to exist.

Then it is attacking a straw man, and can be discarded entirely.

Equivocation

Then you are using a definition of "cause" which is absolutely irrelevant to this discussion. The definition of "cause" which matters here is "a thing which brings another into existence". You cannot take an example of something which fits, your, definition of cause and apply it to a discussion using the other definition., 

Again, yes, it, does, matter. Now you are equivocating between "comes into being" definitions again. The one which matters here is "comes into existence out of nothing". The one you are attempting to equivocate to is "takes on its current form".


Not at all. As Craig and other defenders of the argument has stated, the definition of "cause" as employed by the argument is simply something which produces an effect, regardless of whether or not that effect is out of nothing or out of pre-existing materials. The first premise only states that an efficient cause is necessary, not a material cause. Whether or not a material cause happens to be present has nothing to do with the first premise.[/quote]
Okay. I apologize if the following seems childish or insulting, but less subtle methods have proven ineffective.

This is still equivocation.

Your argument - and Craig's - rests on nothing more than an underhanded attempt to lump two separate definitions of "cause" together under one term and claim that evidence for one is evidence for the other.

It is not.

There are two types of causes: those which cause an effect with pre-existing materials, which are supported by the evidence, and those which cause an effect with newly-existing materials, which are not. You cannot claim that evidence for things happening with material which already exists is evidence for things happening with material that does not.

This argument is nothing more than equivocation. That is the end of the discussion. There really is nothing more that can be said.

A Personal Being

Nonsense.

Being logically necessitated is evidence. However, you have yet to establish that it is logically, possible, let alone necessitated. So you still need evidence.


The evidence itself is the KCA. If the first two premises of the KCA are sound, then the conclusion must entail the existence of a being with free will. You're essentially saying "Even if the KCA is sound, you still need to prove that God exists", that's the very point of the KCA's third premise. I don't see what the problem here is, it's simply reasoning

I withdraw the objection.

The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument and the Compositional Fallacy

I have explained this before. We perceive things as subject to these rules because they exist within time. The universe does not exist within time. You are trying to apply one trait of everything within the universe (having an explanation) to the universe itself while ignoring another trait that everything in the universe shares - being subject to time.
The universe is not subject to time. It cannot have an explanation.

You are assuming your conclusion(s). You must prove that the universe has some possible world, P, where it does not exist and that God exists on all possible worlds. You cannot simply state that they do.

So, basically, it's impossible because you say so and God is magic., 

Yay.

Any real evidence? Or even justification for saying that "God's essence makes it impossible for him to not exist"?


First, you confuse an explanation with a cause, the two are completely different. Even if I grant for the sake of argument that the universe is eternal, it would still need an explanation. It wouldn't need a cause per se, but it would still need an explanation.

No. You are assuming your conclusion. You need to prove that the universe needs an explanation.

Second, it seems you misunderstand how possible world semantics works. As so long as the universe's non-existence is possible, then there exists a possible world in which it does not exist. In the case with God, he by definition is necessarily existent, his existence is not contingent upon anything. It's like asking me to prove that circles are square or that bachelors are unmarried, it's true by definition.

You misunderstand my objection. One, you have not proven that the universe is contingent. You have simply stated that there is a possible world where the universe does not exist. There is absolutely no reason to believe this. You need evidence.
Two. You again misunderstand my objection when it comes to God. I do not argue that, if he were necessary, he would not exist. I argue that he is not necessary, and so far you have given absolutely no evidence to state that he is. You can define something as a necessary being, but defining something as necessary does not actually make it so. Reality does not have to conform to your definitions. You need evidence.

We have no reason to suppose that the universe is necessarily existent. You argue in response:

The universe exists., 

Therefore, we have knowledge of one entity: the universe.

It is possible that this entity is either contingent or necessary.

We have no evidence that any other entity exists.

The evidence suggests that the universe is necessary.


This argument isn't even valid, let alone sound. Even if no other entity exists, it does not follow that the universe is necessarily existent.

You just violated your own argument. If the universe was the only entity in existence, then your own argument states that, by necessity, it must be necessary, because it cannot be contingent on anything else.

To be necessarily existent is to exist in all possible state of affairs.

Your point?

Moreover, what evidence? You stated what there exists evidence, but you failed to tell me what this evidence is.

I told you exactly what the evidence is. The evidence is that we know that the universe exists, but have absolutely no evidence of anything else. Thus, the only logical conclusion is that the universe is necessary. Positing the existence of other entities and stating that the universe is contingent on their existence is pointless, and nothing but bare assertion, as we have absolutely no evidence supporting the existence of these other entities.

The Moral Argument

And I affirmed this, with the slight modification that we are justified in believing that they are, subjectively correct. We can never perceive any morals other than our own, which gives them the veneer of objectivity -, but they are not actually objective.


That's the problem, why aren't they actually objective?

Because there is absolutely no evidence that they are.

Imagine that I used this same argument in response to sense experience. Someone says "My sense experience tells me that there is a tree in front of me." Applying the same line of argument, it would follow that one is not justified in believing that there objectively exists a tree in front of him. Obviously, unless we have other reasons to believe otherwise, we are more justified in believing that morality is actually objective.

Straw man. I have not stated that morality does not exist. I have stated that it is subjective. There is a huge difference.

Beyond that, this is a false analogy. Morality is not a tree. It is your perception of the tree. You, for example, could look at the tree and see a mighty oak, the triumph of nature. On the other hand, I could look at the tree and see something that's in the way of the expressway I'm building.

To expand further on the analogy, suppose you see a man killing Hitler. Most people would perceive this as a good thing. Others - pacifists, perhaps - might see this as an evil act.

To argue that they are not actually objective despite the strong appearance otherwise, it seems to me, is to beg the question.

You are equivocating between "exists" and "objective". No one has argued that morals do not exist. I argue that they are subjective. And, again, every single thing, including the appearance of objectivity, can be explained within the context of subjective morality. Since the subjective system is the one which does not posit the existence of a magic moral force, the burden of proof is on those who back objective morality. You need evidence.

And I did. The subjective explanation accounts for everything that we see in the world to do with morality. It explains why we have morals and why they appear to be objective, all without the need for anything that cannot be objectively proven to exist.

Your explanation requires objective proof of something which has not been proven to exist.

The burden of proof is on you.

This is a total, non sequitur. The bolded part of your sentence is entirely irrelevant. You might as well say that "In this case, the claim "Objective morality exists" is rather self-evident -- pancakes are tasty." That you subjectively believe that torturing babies is wrong is not evidence for objective morality. Neither is the fact that society at large believes the same thing, because evolution explains how this could occur without the need for any new things like your objective code.

No, it doesn't. In fact, it explains it more poorly, because it posits that there is some magic force in the universe which determines what is right and wrong and somehow beams this information into our heads. You need evidence to support that assertion.


The subjective explanation does provide a reason for why we think morality to be objective, but the objective explanation provides an even better explanation

Philosopher, normally I am opposed to the use of emoticons in a situation like this. But there really is no other way to express my feelings right now.

:facepalm:

Your entire argument is based on your personal bias.

Yes, it posits the existence of God, but to say that we have no evidence for God is to beg the question, since that's what the moral argument is supposed to do. In other words, you just presupposed your conclusions.

No.

You constantly accuse me of circular logic. It is becoming tiring. I have not assumed my conclusion. The existence of objective morality is contingent on the existence of a magical force which bestows moral "measurements" on everything. Without evidence of the existence of that force - call it whatever you want, God or Jesus or Lucky the Leprechaun - there is absolutely no reason to believe that morality is objective, because everything we see about morality is explained in the context of subjective morality.

Here. An illustration.

MY ARGUMENT:

Morality = Things we know exist

YOUR ARGUMENT:

Morality = Things we know exist + things we don't know exist

You are essentially saying "Look at all the things we know exist and already have explanations for! Another possible explanation is that they are the result of MAGIC! Prove me wrong!"

No. Prove yourself right.

This is not a non-sequitur at all. That something strongly appears to be one way should give us at least prima facie justification to believe that perhaps it actually is that way.

Until we receive evidence that it isn't, i.e. realize that there is no evidence for the magic force that would make it objective rather than subjective.

No, I haven't, because that isn't my argument. I argue:

"Objective morality does not exist. There is no evidence for it. "

Evolution is not a refutation of the entirety of objective morality. It is a refutation of your argument that an appearance of objectivity is evidence of objectivity. Evolution explains this appearance of objectivity in an entirely subjective framework, so an, appearance, of objectivity is not evidence for objectivity. You need something more.


I never claimed it was a refutation of objective morality. Instead, I said that it commits the genetic fallacy because it attempts to explain why we believe in objective morality in terms of certain evolutionary traits. But explaining something away on the basis of how we came to believe in it just commits the genetic fallacy.

No, it does not, because I am not explaining anything away. I am incorporating it into subjective morality. You still fail to understand. Every single piece of evidence available is perfectly well-explained without the existence of God, or whatever you want to call the mystic force that you say makes morality objective. That makes your entire argument one giant bare assertion and multiple attempts to shift the burden of proof fallaciously.

Secondly, while evolution does purport to give an explanation of why we believe in objective morality, you have not shown that explanation to be true.

Do you deny that cooperation within a species makes that species stronger? Do you deny that the most efficient - and possibly only - way to ensure that species cooperate is to make them desire to perform certain actions and avoid others?

Moreover, your explanation seems to beg the question in that it presupposes in advance that objective morality does not exist and then purports to give an explanation for why we believe things to be objectively moral/immoral.

No. It does not presuppose in advance that objective morality does not exist. It simply shows that morality can be explained through entirely natural forces. It is possible that there is some wizard out there making it all objective, yes, but as we only have evidence for subjectivity, that is nothing but bare assertion.

You must first show that it does not exist before you give an explanation of we why come to believe in it

Asking me to prove a negative? Shame, shame, shame.

You should know better. I have an explanation for why we (or some of us, anyway) believe in it which is entirely natural. Your explanation requires additional evidence. Hardly the genetic fallacy, as you have presented absolutely no evidence beyond anything which is already incorporated into my model.

Yes. Now you look at morality. You see that it isn't the same across all people, but rather that many people have many different ideas of what it is - like looking at a cloud, no one sees the same picture that no one else does. You might look at premarital sex, for example, and think that it is immoral, while someone else might not. On the other hand, everyone is going to see a tree.


It's rather disengenious to focus on moral grey areas while ignoring the clear areas of agreement.

Hardly, as the clear areas of agreement are also incorporated into my model - there are some actions which are extremely bad for society, and are heavily selected against (and, of course, this is still ignoring the freaks). As both of our models agree that there will be clear areas of agreement, their existence is irrelevant, unimportant to either side.
The only area which matters to us, then, is the one where there is disagreement. Presumably there would not be such disagreement within an objectively moral system - unless your objective system is entirely equivalent to my subjective one, in which case you still require additional evidence to support the existence of your magic force.

People are of course going to differ on the finer aspects of morality, but this provides no reason at all to believe that morality is subjective.

So, in short, your "objective" system is one hundred percent identical to the subjective one, but with a god tacked on. Great. Now provide evidence for the existence of your god, or the subjective system stands, as yours is nothing but bare assertion.

Imagine three people, one claims to see a UFO in the sky, another a plane, and another a helicopter Should we conclude that because their responses are contradictory, that there wasn't anything in the sky? Surely there was something, but the witnesses disagreed on the finer aspects of it. The same with morality.

Again, never said it didn't exist.

Argument ad populum, fallacy.

No, it doesn't. Objective morality explains absolutely zilch that subjective morality doesn't.


Firstly, ad populum arguments are not fallacious when they are used to establish the burden of proof.

The case could be made that they are, but I am not in the mood. In any case, even if the burden of proof were on me, I have met it. As I have said, all the available evidence is incorporated into a subjective system. Yours is the one which posits the existence of new, unproven things, and as such the burden is now on you.

Secondly, objective morality has greater explanatory power in that it affirms that objective morality actually exists over the subjective explanation, which claims that morality is is merely an illusion.

That isn't "greater explanatory power". That is an alternate explanation for the same phenomena, and you have given added weight to your side because you like it more.

Dishonest and unconvincing. Give some actual evidence.

And you have absolutely no evidence to support this assertion. "Wrong" in whose eyes? The universe's? The universe doesn't care.


Seriously? Once again, this is not an argument, this is a definition. I was not giving an argument, but an illustration of what I mean by objective.

I know that. I was, again, asking for evidence of your definition's truth. You have defined it. Now I want evidence that it is true.

So do you have any or not?
"Only I can beat me. And I never do."
- Commander Eagle
Tue Jul 06, 2010 3:20 am
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