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God Exists

(PRO)
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(CON)
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Jackson BarnesJackson Barnes (PRO)
Hello. Thank you for accepting my debate. Here are several arguments that can prove the existence of god. Sources will be provided at the end of each round.

1. Anselm's Ontological Argument
  1. It is a conceptual truth (or, so to speak, true by definition) that God is a being than which none greater can be imagined (that is, the greatest possible being that can be imagined).
  2. God exists as an idea in the mind.
  3. A being that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is, other things being equal, greater than a being that exists only as an idea in the mind.
  4. Thus, if God exists only as an idea in the mind, then we can imagine something that is greater than God (that is, a greatest possible being that does exist).
  5. But we cannot imagine something that is greater than God (for it is a contradiction to suppose that we can imagine a being greater than the greatest possible being that can be imagined.)
  6. Therefore, God exists.
The main idea of this argument is the idea that if we can imagine such a being as perfect and infinite as God, than he ought to exist in reality, otherwise we would be able to imagine something that is more powerful and more infinite than God. 
While this theory is constantly referred to by atheists as being circular reasoning, but the main reason why this argument is considered wrong is because it could potentially prove the existence of God, which challenges the Atheistic world-view of people such as Richard Dawkins and Matt Dillahunty. Another reason, even though the counterclaim is valid, is that God is beyond human understanding and comprehension, so the human mind cannot and will not be able to rationalize this.
2. The Cosmological Argument
The Basic Cosmological Argument is this:
  1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

  2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

  3. The universe exists.

  4. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).

  5. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2, 4).

To break this down into smaller details, lets take a closer look at premise 1. According to Premise 1, there are two types of things in the world, things that exist necessarily and things which are produced by some external cause. Things that exist necessarily exist by a necessity of their own nature. It’s impossible for them not to exist. Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities exist in this way. They’re not caused to exist by something else; they just exist necessarily. On the other hand, things that are caused to exist by something else don't necessarily have to exist. Examples of this include people, planets, and galaxies. So premise 1 asserts that everything that exists can be explained in one of these two ways. This claim, when you reflect on it, seems very plausibly true. Imagine that you’re hiking through the woods and come across a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You’d naturally wonder how it came to be there. If one of your hiking partners said to you, “Don’t worry about it! There isn’t any explanation of its existence!”, you’d either think he was crazy or figure that he just wanted you to keep moving. No one would take seriously the suggestion that the ball existed there with literally no explanation.

Now suppose you increase the size of the ball in this story to the size of a car. That wouldn’t do anything to satisfy or remove the demand for an explanation. Suppose it were the size of a house. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of a continent or a planet. Same problem. Suppose it were the size of the entire universe. Same problem. Merely increasing the size of the ball does nothing to affect the need of an explanation. Since any object could be substituted for the ball in this story, that gives grounds for thinking premise 1 to be true. One might try to justify making the universe an exception to premise 1. Some philosophers have claimed that it’s impossible for the universe to have an explanation of its existence. For the explanation of the universe would have to be some prior state of affairs in which the universe did not yet exist. But that would be nothingness, and nothingness can’t be the explanation of anything. So the universe must just exist inexplicably. This line of reasoning is, however, obviously fallacious because it assumes that the universe is all there is, that if there were no universe there would be nothing. In other words, the objection assumes that atheism is true. The objector is thus begging the question in favor of atheism, arguing in a circle. The theist will agree that the explanation of the universe must be some prior state of affairs in which the universe did not exist. But that state of affairs is God and his will, not nothingness.

Now, moving on to Premise 2, which may seem controversial at first, it is actually logically equivalent to what an atheist would normally argue in regards to the contingency argument. The atheist will typically assert the following: 

A. If atheism is true, the universe has no explanation of its existence.

Since, on atheism, the universe is the ultimate reality, it just exists as a brute fact. But that is logically equivalent to saying this:

B. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, then atheism is not true.

So you can’t affirm (A) and deny (B). But (B) is virtually synonymous with premise 2! (Just compare them.) So by saying that, given atheism, the universe has no explanation, the atheist is implicitly admitting premise 2: if the universe does have an explanation, then God exists. Premise 2 is very plausible in its own right. For think of what the universe is:all of space-time reality, including all matter and energy. It follows that if the universe has a cause of its existence, that cause must be a non-physical, immaterial being beyond space and time. Now there are only two sorts of things that could fit that description: either an abstract object like a number or else an un-embodied mind. But abstract objects can’t cause anything. That’s part of what it means to be abstract. The number seven, for example, can’t cause any effects. So if there is a cause of the universe, it must be a transcendent, un-embodied Mind, which is what Christians understand God to be.

Premise 3 is blatantly obvious for anyone who has a brain, seeing as the universe very much exists. 
To recap, these three premises show that God exists. Now if God exists, the explanation of God’s existence lies in the necessity of his own nature, since, as even the atheist recognizes, it’s impossible for God to have a cause. So if this argument is successful, it proves the existence of a necessary, uncaused, timeless, space-less, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe. 
Rebuttal/Counterclaim:
You might expect Richard Dawkins to have responded to and refuted this argument, but all you will find in his book The God Delusion is a brief discussion of some simplified versions of a Thomas Aquinas argument on pages 76-77. This is quite surprising seeing as this argument from contingency is one of the premiere arguments in proving the existence of God. 
Arguments 3 and 4 coming in round 2. I wish you good luck, and may the best debater win.

Sources:

Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith. 3rd ed. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. [ch. 3]

Davis, Stephen T. “The Cosmological Argument and the Epistemic Status of Belief in God.” Philosophia Christi1 (1999): 5–15.

*———. God, Reason, and Theistic Proofs. Reason and Religion. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.

Leibniz, G. W. F. von.“On the Ultimate Origin of Things.” Pages 345–55 in Leibniz Selections. Edited by P. Wiener. New York: Scribner’s, 1951.

———. “The Principles of Nature and of Grace, Based on Reason.” Pages 522–33 in Leibniz Selections. Edited by P. Wiener. New York: Scribner’s, 1951.

*O’Connor, Timothy. Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

*Pruss, Alexander. “The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument.” Pages 24–100 in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

*———. The Principle of Sufficient Reason: A Reassessment. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

  • Anselm, St., Anselm's Basic Writings, translated by S.W. Deane, 2nd Ed. (La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing Co., 1962)
  • Aquinas, Thomas, St., Summa Theologica(1a Q2), "Whether the Existence of God is Self-Evident (Thomas More Publishing, 1981)
  • Barnes, Jonathan, The Ontological Argument (London: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1972)

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2019-08-26 13:57:54
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