Debate Now Does it make sense to accept God's existence based solely on the arguments presented for it?

Discussion in 'Debate Now - Structured Discussion Forum' started by 320 Years of History, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. 320 Years of History
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    320 Years of History Gold Member

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    Discussion Rules:
    1. Present your arguments in dialectical form: introduction and assertion, argument(s), counterargument(s), rebuttal, conclusion. You don't have to take on or reply to the entirely of a given post, but if you feel compelled to make your own claim or refute one or more portions of another's claim, structure your argument/refutation dialectically. In other words, if you assert someone's comments are wrong, entirely or in part, do so dialectically. If you are just musing about what you read, or perhaps building upon the ideas someone else presented, but not disagreeing with it, there's no need to do so dialectically.
    2. Provide, or be ready to provide if asked, references/citations (weblinks are preferred, but if you must cite a non-web based source, APA/MLA format will do) for any facts you use to bolster your position and that (1) cannot be seen as generally and well known by folks who lack specialized training with regard to the facts you cite, or (2) that are debateable. For example, if you were to use the fact that something can come from nothing, you need to provide a physics or mathematical reference that shows that to be factually true because most people believe that something cannot come from nothing. Anything you don't/cannot reference is taken to be your own assertion and we'll look to your post for support for it.
    3. You must respond directly to all non-rhetorical questions asked of you to the extent they pertain to your post(s) and their content. If the answer you must give is "I don't know," or "I can't explain it," or something more or less to that effect, then it just is. Obviously, you don't need to respond to rhetorical questions.
    With that administrivia out of the way, here's my opening argument.

    Believing God Exists Based on Arguments for His Existence is Illogical

    Almost daily in United States one encounters stimuli that ask one to accept that God (in the Judeo-Christian sense of the word/being) exists. For example, every denomination of American currency has clearly stated on it “In God we trust.” The fact of the matter, however, is that literally millions of Americans do not trust in any god because, quite simply, they do not believe there exists any supernatural entity, much less the one referred to in Judeo-Christian dogma as God or Yahweh. Accordingly, while it makes sense to consider the verity of whether any god exists, it also makes sense to ask whether it is rational to believe in The Divine as depicted in Jewish and Christian theological traditions.

    Many philosophers have considered and presented arguments for why they believe God exists. I cannot here achieve their levels of consideration on the matter, but I can examine their arguments and make of them what I will. Thus, I have reviewed the best arguments for and against the Divine’s existence and developed my own argument about whether it is rational, based entirely on those arguments, to believe The Divine exists. To that end, this paper argues whether any of the main theistic arguments for the being of God “hold enough water” to merit one’s accepting them. Specifically, I assert that it makes little rational sense to believe in God solely on the basis of the major arguments for His existence because not one them is “bulletproof.” I will show furthermore that God’s very existence, quite simply, hangs by the thinnest of threads and that more now than ever, the only things militating strongly for believing in Him is a mix of faith and timidity, not pure reason.

    Before examining whether it makes sense to believe in the Judeo-Christian God, one must first consider whether the singular God proposed by Judaism and Christianity, is plausible and probable. The answer is given that monotheism defines God as being all powerful, and as having created the universe in which we exist, there being only one God is not only plausible, but also necessary. When God elects to exist in this universe, He must exist and move through it using the constraints He defined for it. Were there two or more Gods, it would then be possible for one to form Himself into an immovable object while the other becomes an irresistible force. Those two things, though they may not begin in contact with one another, could eventually meet. When they do, what will happen? Will the object move, or will the force be resisted? Given the rules by which this universe is governed, the two cannot coexist; one must yield. The god that yields is a less supreme being, thereby establishing the other as the Supreme Being. Thus in our universe, and as Jews and Christians have defined God, it makes sense, if one is to believe in God, to believe that S/He is the sole such Supreme Being. There can be only one.

    Is there a rebuttal to this logic? Frankly, no, there is not, at least not until one introduces the idea of a multiverse, and even then, it silly to consider the idea. As intriguing is the idea of a multiverse, and for whatever benefits it yields physicists, the fact is neither they, I, nor you, dear reader, can leave this universe; thus it does not matter if there are multiple Supreme Beings, each of whom presides over His/Her own universe at any given moment. It stands to reason, therefore, that in this universe there can only be one kind of god like the one defined in the Bible and Torah.

    For the sake of argument, however, consider that there might be multiple “Gods,” each of whom can be omni-/present/potent and omniscient (OPP). Insofar as they cannot coexist in our universe, it is silly to consider whether they all exist or whether only one exists. Even if they were to “universe hop” and at various times visit ours, at any one time, there would still only be one of them present within our universe. To that end, the one OPP God present at any given time would be indistinguishable to us from all the others. Therefore, the “current” OPP God may as well be the only OPP God because we cannot experience any potential other OPP Gods independently of the one with us at the moment. Does that, in the abstract, eliminate the possibility that multiple OPP Gods might exist? No, not entirely, but as men do not exist in the abstract, we need only worry about the being of the God who can and does exist in sphere in which we find ourselves.

    Argument:

    Having shown that there can only be one God such as the one depicted in the Bible, we now can look at whether it is rational to believe that He exists based on the major arguments asserting he does. In my mind, no, it does not make sense to believe in God, certainly not on any purely logical basis. In logic there are essentially three forms of argumentation: abductive, inductive, and deductive. Thus if one is to argue that God exists, one must apply one or several of those forms of reason to make the case that He exists.

    The weakest form of argument is one based on abductive reasoning. Abductive reasoning is essentially one’s “best guess” based on what one has observed. The abductive argument for God’s existence essentially says “We can’t identify anything else that is the cause of “everything;” therefore, it must be the being we have defined as God.” Given the nature and scope of traits Judeo-Christianity ascribes to God, along with the myriad things that have been done in His name, an argument for His existence needs to be stronger than a “best guess.” One can hardly consider a “best guess,” that is, not being able to identify a better alternative, as logically sufficient for believing something as grand as God exists. Curiously, however, the best argument for God being – Thomas Aquinas’ Cosmological Argument -- happens to be an abductive one.

    A better argument would be a robustly developed inductive one. There are several routinely offered inductive arguments in support of God’s existence. The thing with all inductive arguments is that at best, they can only attest to their claim being likely. No inductive argument, no matter its rigor, shows incontrovertibly that the assertion it attempts to prove is so. Therefore, if one is to accept any inductive argument, one must necessarily concur that its premises and conclusion(s) are valid logically, and in turn accept that the likelihood of its conclusion’s verity is more likely than that of any alternative conclusion.

    That leaves us with deductive reasoning, also known as “formal arguments.” Of the three forms of reasoning, the only one that can guarantee that one’s conclusion is correct is deductive reasoning. That is not to suggest that every deductive argument is both valid and correct, for many are not; however, were one found that demonstrates God’s existence, it would truly be illogical to deny the existence of God. That said, quite simply, there is no formal argument that proves God’s existence.

    Looking at the inductive and abductive arguments asserting that God exists, and since there is no deductive one that makes not adopting such a belief a fool’s game, I assert that the basis for believing in God cannot be fully logical. It cannot be so because each argument advocating God’s existence has at least one huge logical gap.

    Counterargument:

    Over the centuries, multiple arguments proponing God’s existence have been posited as counterarguments to the outright denial of God’s existence, or more precisely as “proofs” that God exists. The most commonly cited arguments in support of God’s being are:
    • The Bible tells me God exists; therefore, He does. (aka, The Bible tells me so) – This argument says, “God is 'all that and a bag of chips."' God inspired various people to write the Bible/Torah. They did as instructed and God didn’t lie to them. They assert that those 'Divinely inspired' books say God exists; therefore, God does exist.”
    • The Ontological Argument – Anselmo d'Aosta first introduced this argument. It essentially says that because we can imagine God – the perfect, OPP entity defined in the Bible – existing, He does exist.
    • The Moral Argument – This argument says that we observe moral character among humanity and the best explanation for that character’s being is belief in God. Thus belief in God is preferable to denying that He is.
    • The Argument of Degrees – First proposed by Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica, syllogistically, this argument – borrowing it seems from mathematics the idea that for any given number, there can be a larger number or a smaller number – goes as follows:
    1. Objects have properties to greater or lesser extents.
    2. If an object has a property to a lesser extent, then there exists some other object that has the property to the maximum possible degree.
    3. So there is an entity that has all properties to the maximum possible degree.
    4. Hence God exists.
    • The Cosmological Argument – Proposed by both Plato and Aristotle, it is Thomas Aquinas who generally gets credited with this argument. For brevity, as with his preceding argument, it is presented in simple, syllogistic form and adapted to accommodate the Big Bang Theory:
    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
    2. The Universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause, and God is that cause.
    4. God thus exists.
    Although there are other purportedly logical arguments for God’s existence, the preceding ones are those Theists most often proffer, the Cosmological Argument and the Argument of Degrees being the two strongest, rationally speaking. Theists present one or several of these arguments, and insofar as they view the arguments as logically valid, assert that their belief in God’s existence is therefore based on reason

    Rebuttal:
    Whereas the arguments God apologists present are ostensibly logical, one of them, on even the most puerile level, is not, and several of them have big gaps in their reasoning. Moreover, one can be applied equally well to “prove” things which the slightest bit of common sense shows do not make sense. Lastly, the best of them, the Cosmological Argument, asks one to accept as probable something that is only likely – and that, only by a very long shot given 20th and 21st century scientific discoveries -- because we have yet to find something more likely.

    Let us look the logical failings of each of the counterarguments noted above.
    • The Bible tells me so – The logical problem with this argument is that it is circular. It is invalid; consequently, it should not be a basis for one’s claiming to have a rational basis for believing God exists.
    • The Ontological Argument – This brazen argument fails on at least three fronts. First, its line of reasoning implies that if one can conceive of, say, a perfect lake, or a perfect “anything,” that thing must exist. By implying that if it is logically possible for God to exist, He thus does exist, this line of argument suffers from the bare assertion fallacy for the logic of this argument exists absent one shred of tangible evidence that unquestionably supports it. Second, the argument depends on God’s being perfect, yet, according to the Bible, God made man in his image, and man is far from perfect. Lastly, this argument is circular; syllogistically, it asserts:
    1. I can conceive of God being.
    2. Therefore God is because I can conceive of Him.
    • The Moral Argument – The problem with this argument is not that it is outright invalid, for there is no denying that morality exists among humanity. The problem is morality’s non-universality among humanity, along with it’s not deriving from God’s existence. Consider the Frist Crusade of 1099 wherein Rome’s soldiers murdered thousands of Jews [1]. It is entirely plausible, certain if one accepts Hobbes theory of the social contract [2], that they slaughtered those people due to social mores and exigencies, such as the need for European powers, namely the Roman Catholic Church, to recover its supremacy and to establish political hegemony over the known parts of the planet. Seen from the perspective of the social and political realities of the Middle Ages, one can easily show that God had nothing to do with much of import the Crusaders did, much less with their murders and pillaging. Indeed, given God’s sixth Commandment – thou shalt not murder -- it is very hard credibly, logically, to consider the morality of the Crusaders, and later Judeo-Christian zealots, as being God-caused. If anything, their actions were spurred by an “anti-God,” rather than a God, or perhaps even by a god other the one who issued the 6th Commandment. (In U.S., we say “kill,” but a correct translation of the Ten Commandments from Hebrew shows the term given in the 6th Commandment was “ratsakh,“ which refers only and always to murder, manslaughter and other forms of unjust killings. [3])
    • The Argument of Degrees – The rationale of this argument, though it couches itself in logical structure, suffers from the fact that the entity in question is not the next or preceding number in a sequence, but rather God. In consideration of things/entities having more substance than numbers, one need not believe in an object of greater degree to believe in and accept an object of lesser degree. Likewise, the same holds for the preceding statement’s converse. If one encounters the ugliest duckling one has ever seen, that one has does not make it necessary that an even uglier one exists, despite one’s not having seen it. Too, if one finds the smallest star, it is entirely possible that there simply is no smaller star. Ostensibly, God could transform himself into a smaller star, but then God would not be God, He’d be a star, whence after there would then be no God; moreover, God becoming a star would give greater credibility to Astrolatarianism.
    • The Cosmological Argument (TCA) – Since time immemorial, it has been self-evident that things cannot and do not come from “no thing.” The problem I see with the logic of TCA is not that it is inherently illogical, but rather that it nowhere establishes that the cause for all we see is in fact God of the Bible; it merely asserts that He, and not something or “someone” else, is the cause. It is here that TCA falls apart as a sufficiently logical basis for believing in God’s existence.

      The reader will recall that we examined whether it is possible for there to be more than one God such as the one described in the Bible, and we concluded that it is not. In TCA, however, Aquinas argues that the God of the Bible is the cause of all things. However, what Aquinas overlooks in his argument is the possibility that there are in fact multiple gods, all be they each very powerful and bright, though none of them being an OPP God, and that one or several of them created everything. The problem with TCA is that in “proving” God exists, it discounts the possibility – the argument rests upon the tenets of probability – that there really is not only one God. Might it be instead that there were multiple gods who created everything, but that only one was entrusted to tell the tale of how and that they did so? Might it not be possible, perhaps even probable, given that we envious, avaricious men “made in God’s image,” were told the tale by an equally “fame craving god among several gods” who took all the credit for himself, allowing or leading the Bible writers, and thus us, to believe that he is the OPP God?

      Celebrity seeking gods aside, in 2014, TCA suffered another blow when scientists discovered a mathematical proof that shows that something can indeed result from nothing. Professor Dongshan He and his team at the Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics proved that in a “true vacuum” (the term that describes the state of nothingness), it is possible for “quantum fluctuations” to spontaneously produce a universe. [4] Potentially, therefore, ours is a universe that was so created. This discovery is quite momentous, for although Dr. Dongshan has not demonstrated that our universe did emerge spontaneously from nothing, he has shown that (1) a change in the quantity of energy (presumably – at least to my mind -- not a thing at all) present can result in something coming to exist that before did not exist, and (2) that it is possible for the universe to have been a thing that did so come into existence. Now one might argue that God is that energy that fluxed; however, the God of the Bible is not presented as energy; He’s presented as a being, a “thing,” that is, He is presented as a being having more substance than does energy. In that regard, one must either redefine the being of God, or accept that He doesn’t exist. Either way, there is yet another chink in the armor of TCA; the probability that God – as we presently claim to understand and perceive Him – is the cause has been significantly reduced. What remains now is determining whether our universe was created “from nothing” rather than by God.
    Conclusion:

    The preceding discussion has shown that among the varied reasons for believing in God, logic doesn’t logically and on its own make sense as a cause for so believing. One will recall that this paper never sought to establish whether God does exist – I do not know if God exists; too, I cannot prove that He does or does not. Instead, I can evaluate whether one’s saying one believes in God because it is logical to do so, because it is logical that He exists, is, well, illogical. The dialectic argument presented herein shows that because each of the logical justifications for believing in God’s existence is flawed, neither collectively nor individually are they logical enough to serve as the sole and purely logical reason(s) for asserting logic is the reason one believes God exists. Succinctly, citing just logic (at least that of the major arguments) as the reason for believing in God’s existence – if only because there is no formal argument for God’s existence -- isn’t sufficient to make logical one’s belief in God’s being, no matter how much reason one attempts to apply or how reasonable be the arguments one offers. Something alongside logic is necessary to enable belief that God exists. For many people, that thing is faith.

    So, if not logic, what might militate for one’s having faith that God exists? Emotional contentment is a perfectly fine, plausible and probable reason. What gains might make the emotional satisfaction found in theism “worth it?” Parrying the risk of spiritual damnation is one thing. If God exists as depicted in the Bible, one will be in a “whole heap o’ trouble and dismay,” to use my Southern father’s parlance, if, after passing, one obtains confirmation He exists, and one did not believe in Him. Little is lost by believing in God if it turns out He really does not exist; but much is lost if one did not believe, and He does exist as stated. Furthermore, as there is today no formal way to disprove God’s existence, and given the promises He is said to have made, it is certainly more emotionally calming to “buy into” God existing than it is to believe that when one dies “that’s it.” Additionally, it just feels good to have faith that there is something after the reality we know in life; it feels good to believe that the people whom we knew, loved and lost in life will become known to us again in an afterlife.

    So, if there is to be any logic found in believing in God, it is that it is illogical for one to feel emotionally dissatisfied and do nothing about it. If believing in God will effect that change, then by all means, one should believe in God and all that He offers; however, in so doing, one should also realize that it is not the logic of God existing that drives one’s belief in Him.


    References
    [1] “Crusaders massacre of Jerusalem was done in cold-blood, not religious frenzy, historian argues.” Medievalists.net. January 2011.

    [2] Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan: With selected variants from the Latin edition of 1668. Ed. Edwin Curley. Hackett: Cambridge, MA. 1994.

    [3] Got Questions.org. “Why is ‘You shall not murder’ in the Ten Commandments?

    [4] Dongshan He, Dongfeng Gao, and Qing-yu Cai. “Spontaneous Creation of the Universe from Nothing.” http://arxiv.org/pdf/1404.1207.pdf. Published on Physics Review D, April 2014.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015
  2. jwoodie
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    jwoodie Gold Member Supporting Member

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    Debating the existence of God presupposes a belief in the nature of God, thereby completing a circular argument. The only intellectually legitimate way to address this issue is to define God as some intelligence greater than our own. Even then, we have a limited capacity to comprehend what that might be. As a result, we are faced with a decision as to whether we believe humans possess the greatest intelligence in the universe. I certainly hope not!
     
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  3. shadow355
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    shadow355 Gold Member

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    Believe !

    Documented history - the Bible .

    Writings ( " Documentations " ) that prove of Gods existence.

    You don't have to understand , all you have to do is believe.

    Unless you are like me, and for a Decade.....people cuss , talk bad , and try to sway you to a less than perfect rationale, thinking, and conversations.....just to spy on you and get your true thoughts and beliefs..... And take a Decade to do it.

    I am a Science project, a " lab rat " for numerous people. And I do not appreciate it.

    Spy's.

    Shadow 355
     
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  4. jwoodie
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    jwoodie Gold Member Supporting Member

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    Interesting that you take such umbrage at hearing opinions or beliefs other than your own.
     
  5. baileyn45
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    baileyn45 Platinum Member

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    No.
     
  6. 320 Years of History
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    320 Years of History Gold Member

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    The "issue" I've presented for this thread isn't whether God exists, but rather whether it makes sense to accept that he does based on the arguments presented for his existence. I made that clear in the OP when I wrote "this paper argues whether any of the main theistic arguments for the being of God “hold enough water” to merit one’s accepting them."
     
  7. MarathonMike
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    MarathonMike Platinum Member

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    I agree that the basis for belief in God cannot be fully logical. The reason that individuals grapple with the question of God's existence is to figure out, i.e "make sense of" our own existence. That is by definition personal and emotional. So people embark down various paths to answer that question and choose the one that best fits their experiences and thought processes. Often that means indoctrination in or choosing a formal religion and by default accepting that religion's concept of God. Others do not accept formal religion but believe in some form a God, or higher intelligence or power. To me, the more interesting question is "Do you believe in the concept of a God that intervenes"?
     
  8. sparky
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    sparky Gold Member

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    If people knew that the the entire deity /crucifixion / resurrection / religious dogma was a scenario historically repeated , they'd be less inclined to buy into the christian version of it

    ~S~
     
  9. RetiredGySgt
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    RetiredGySgt Diamond Member

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    I believe in God BECAUSE OF FAITH and WORKS. I don't need proof. That is the whole point behind God, he wants you to chose to believe in him he does not intend to prove he exists.
     
  10. I amso IR
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    I amso IR "Well Yea, Duh"!

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    Truth is a demure lady, much too ladylike to knock you on your head and drag you to her cave. She is there, but people must want her, and seek her out.
    William F. Buckley Jr.

    320, the above you might recognize. To paraphrase; "GOD is there, but people must want GOD, and seek GOD out". Have a little faith my friend. I amso IR
     

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