Monday, September 20, 2010

Why Do Atheists Lose Debates?

I've seen a few atheists on the internet discuss why their side typically loses debates against theists, and they offer some theories, including the lack time to clarify their positions, their presentation of a weak case, etc. I must say, as a theist, these sound like pretty lame excuses.

Do atheists lack time to explain their cases?

It is supposed on the linked to post that "atheists often lose because theirexplanation for morality or consciousness or cosmogenesis or fine-tuning or whatever takes a heck of a lot longer to explain than 'God did it.'" In a debate, the atheist has as much time to prepare their case, lay out their case, and respond to objections about their case. Does a debater really need more time to explain why he thinks making more people happy as a result of your actions is where morality ought to lay in, as utilitarians would? Does a Randian objectivist need 15 more minutes to lay out why they think that selfish interests would work as a moral code for society? Not if they are well studied. There are plenty of philosophers out there who have debated people like William Lane Craig and Dinesh D'Souza who ought to be able to present a succinct case for why morality could work in some other way, if it is a good argument. That is the mark of an intelligent person; to be able to take a complex subject and work it down into an easy to understand argument.

Furthermore, this objection presupposes that all the theist has to say is "goddidit!" This really amounts to nothing but a one sided assessment from an atheist who is frustrated. When theists present reasons for placing moral ontology in God (to continue using the same example) they need to, and most of the time do, explain why God is the most plausible ground for morality. If presented with a counter meta-ethical theory, the theist should be, and most often is, able to point out why the counter theory is inadequate to explain morality. This should be the case with any argument, and if the atheist wants to show their position to be better, they need to do the same if they can.

I just don't buy that it should take the atheist more time to present his arguments. The theist's arguments require just as much explanation and defense as the atheists.

A poor case


There really isn't anything to argue with in this sentence from the post:
atheists often lose because they present a weaker case. Maybe all the theist’s arguments are terrible, but to win the debate, the atheist has to show why his arguments are terrible, and (in some way) must give some good arguments for his own position. The atheist often does poorly inboth these respects.
I agree completely. Here's the thing. Luke says later that atheists are often woefully inept at philosophical concepts, but many, if not most, of these debates with atheists are with philosophers! In fact, William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga and other theists have debated philosophers whose field of expertise is ethics (moral argument), or cosmology (cosmological arguments and/or teleological arguments), or higher Biblical critics and historians (argument from Jesus' resurrection) and they still win the debate.

Preparation is perhaps an issue. But really!? All of these atheist specialists in philosophy or other fields all fail to properly prepare for a debate? Come on.

My assessment


Atheists just have an inadequate worldview. That's the best explanation for why their arguments are so quickly and easily defeated. Since the demise of the logical argument from evil, atheism is an untenable case. Sure, some atheists try to show that the concept of God is incoherent, but they've never been able to construct a convincing argument, and the probabilistic problem of evil is too presumptuous. At best, if atheists were successful in tearing down all of the classical theistic arguments for God, the only rationally justifiable position to take would be soft agnosticism, as hard agnosticism is also very presumptuous. How do you know that no one can know about God? How can you say you can't know anything about God, because saying that is positing a knowledge claim about God!

However, since theism so ably presents a coherent, consistent, and complete view of reality, it seems to me that the atheists frustrated with the constant loss of debates should consider the theistic case. Stop holding to such a rationally incoherent position and join us theists! It is far and away the most plausible and most interesting worldview.

Then repent of your sinful stubbornness and accept the loving embrace of the Savior, Jesus of Nazareth.

23 comments:

zilch said...

I beg to differ, bossmanham. Most of what I have to say was also in this article you linked, or in the comments, so no claims for originality here; but most of my objections are pretty commonsensical and obvious anyway.

One- who says when a debate is won or lost? God? Theists? Atheists? Is there any objective judge here? In the absence of some sort of impartial judge, it's hard to say who wins or loses more debates. Or do you have some sort of unbiased measure?

Two, and more important: what does it mean to "lose" a debate? Does it mean that your position has been proven wrong? My impression is that debates, especially live debates, tend to be "won" (if there's a consensus from both sides, which there sometimes is) by the person with the better delivery, not necessarily by the person with the most facts or the better explanation of those facts. Written debates are a better format for getting positions explained.

Three: atheists are often at a disadvantage, as far as presenting a snappy soundbite, in that their position is more complex and admits of more uncertainty than the position of theists. Despite what you claim, that "being able to take a complex subject and work it down into an easy to understand argument", this is not really the case with very complex subjects such as morals or evolutionary theory, if you want to do justice to the subject.

The Bible, plus all its apologia, all the ontological arguments, and everything else that's been said about Christianity, is not to be compared in bulk or complexity with the corpus of scientific knowledge about the world. So it is not unfair to say that theists have a much simpler argument to make.

And the fact that theists usually claim absolute certainty about things such as the origin of the Universe and morals is an easier sell than atheists who must admit uncertainty. People crave certainty, and it takes a certain amount of courage to admit that one is not certain.

In conclusion, you say:

Atheists just have an inadequate worldview. That's the best explanation for why their arguments are so quickly and easily defeated. Since the demise of the logical argument from evil, atheism is an untenable case.

All I can say is, dream on.

However, since theism so ably presents a coherent, consistent, and complete view of reality, it seems to me that the atheists frustrated with the constant loss of debates should consider the theistic case. Stop holding to such a rationally incoherent position and join us theists! It is far and away the most plausible and most interesting worldview.

Been there, done that. While I won't argue that theism presents a relatively coherent, consistent, and complete worldview, atheism does as well, and has the advantage that it's both simpler, by the factor of one superbeing, and fits the facts better. And sorry, I don't find theism any more "plausible" than belief in leprechauns, and it is less interesting, because there is less thinking left for us to do.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

bossmanham said...

Zilch! Good to hear from you. Long time no see!

One- who says when a debate is won or lost? God? Theists? Atheists? Is there any objective judge here? In the absence of some sort of impartial judge, it's hard to say who wins or loses more debates. Or do you have some sort of unbiased measure?

How is it that Luke and I are able to guage this, but you aren't. You have two people from opposite ends of the spectrum here able to agree, so why are you stuck in that large river that runs through Egypt?

Two, and more important: what does it mean to "lose" a debate?

To give poorer arguments than your opponent.

My impression is that debates, especially live debates, tend to be "won" (if there's a consensus from both sides, which there sometimes is) by the person with the better delivery, not necessarily by the person with the most facts or the better explanation of those facts.

Yes, facts do tend to make for good arguments.

Three: atheists are often at a disadvantage, as far as presenting a snappy soundbite, in that their position is more complex and admits of more uncertainty than the position of theists

I deny that, and gave reasons for doing so in the post. Theists never simply end with "goddidit." William Lane Craig, for example, always uses up the entire 18-20 minute opening speech by thoroughly explaining, normally, five theistic arguments. FIVE!

Why can't an atheist get through two (the only two you have are the argument from evil and the argument from the incoherence of god)?

this is not really the case with very complex subjects such as morals or evolutionary theory

Yes it is. Theistic morality requires just as detailed a description as any atheistic system. And in the rebuttals the theist has to be ready to explain himself as well.

I don't see why a good biologist couldn't succinctly explain evolutionary theory. Seems you don't have much faith in your spokesmen.

The Bible, plus all its apologia, all the ontological arguments, and everything else that's been said about Christianity, is not to be compared in bulk or complexity with the corpus of scientific knowledge about the world. So it is not unfair to say that theists have a much simpler argument to make.

Most of which has been discarded as science evolves. Comparing the amount of things written about a specific subject is not showing how complicated an argument is, either.

All I can say is, dream on.

You're more than welcome to try to prove me wrong.

I've given you ample room on this blog to make some sort of compelling case for atheism.

Sorry, this objection from Luke just amounts to whining, IMO.

bossmanham said...

While I won't argue that theism presents a relatively coherent, consistent, and complete worldview, atheism does as well,

Atheism can't explain the basic reasons to accept the field of study they laud as the deliverer from the dark ages of religion. Science, for starters, is untenable on atheism.

David said...

"Stop holding to such a rationally incoherent position and join us theists! It is far and away the most plausible and most interesting worldview. Repent of your sinful stubbornness."

When you are going to embrace the rationally coherent position that the Earth is only 6000 years old and repent of your sinful and stubborn old earth views?

bossmanham said...

When it's relevant to the post.

David said...

But it is relevant. Afterall, if we're going to say that theism has all the good arguments, don't we have to figure out which version of theism is the right one, you know, the one with the good arguments?

bossmanham said...

But it is relevant. Afterall, if we're going to say that theism has all the good arguments, don't we have to figure out which version of theism is the right one, you know, the one with the good arguments?

That's one of the interesting things the theist can think about once they have grounds for actually accepting scientific induction. I never said theism answered EVERY question, it simply provides a coherently grounded worldview by which to explore these questions.

David said...

"I never said theism answered EVERY question, it simply provides a coherently grounded worldview by which to explore these questions."

Yes, but which version of theism are you talking about here? Since theist often "win" (cough) the argument by announcing that their god or gods have traits X, Y and Z, and since these conclusions are usually supported with reference to a particular set of sacred texts, it would seem to me that we must first figure out which version of theism is being promoted. That is, we need to know which sacred texts are being used and which interpretation of said texts is advanced before can could much about the quality of the arguments. So, are you promoting young earth theism or old earth theism?

bossmanham said...

Yes, but which version of theism are you talking about here?

Um, Christian theism. And I'll concede that there are subsets of Christian theism that I think fail in some theological and/or philosophical sense at explaining certain aspects, but you still have a rationally justifiable worldview by which to explore these questions, even if you answer some of them wrong. Those would sometimes be inconsequential when it comes to personal salvation.

bossmanham said...

And I don't have to appeal to sacred texts to conceive of God as the One which no greater can be conceived. He has the maximal greatness in all great making properties.

David said...

"And I'll concede that there are subsets of Christian theism that I think fail in some theological and/or philosophical sense at explaining certain aspects, but you still have a rationally justifiable worldview by which to explore these questions, even if you answer some of them wrong."

Well, all this being the case, given the failures and wrong answers, and given the inability to determine which, if any, versions of Christianity are the correct ones, I'm not sure there's much here that's superior to deism or even atheism. So, I'm not sure how theism wins the argument.

"And I don't have to appeal to sacred texts to conceive of God as the One which no greater can be conceived. He has the maximal greatness in all great making properties."

Ah, well, now this is true, because this one you can just make up on your own.

zilch said...

b: Zilch! Good to hear from you. Long time no see!

Thanks for the welcome, bossmanham. The reason for the long time no see, if you may recall, is that your last exchange with me ended with your making fun of my online name to make a point. If you can curb your temper this time, I'll stick around a bit. I'm always willing to give people a second chance, but I'm not interested in merely exchanging insults- life is too short.

b: How is it that Luke and I are able to guage this, [whether a debate is "won" or not] but you aren't. You have two people from opposite ends of the spectrum here able to agree, so why are you stuck in that large river that runs through Egypt?

Maybe because I'm a different person? How does the agreement of two people "prove" who won?

z: Two, and more important: what does it mean to "lose" a debate?

b: To give poorer arguments than your opponent.


This is just restating the question: what does it mean to "give poorer arguments than your opponent"? And who judges this?

z: Three: atheists are often at a disadvantage, as far as presenting a snappy soundbite, in that their position is more complex and admits of more uncertainty than the position of theists.

b: I deny that, and gave reasons for doing so in the post. Theists never simply end with "goddidit." William Lane Craig, for example, always uses up the entire 18-20 minute opening speech by thoroughly explaining, normally, five theistic arguments. FIVE! Why can't an atheist get through two (the only two you have are the argument from evil and the argument from the incoherence of god)?


Er, no, there are other reasons for not accepting God. The foremost is the same as not accepting leprechauns or dragons: there is no evidence for the existence of such beings. There are many additional arguments against the God of the Bible, including the age of the Earth, the many contradictions within the Bible, the evidence for evolution, etc.

zilch said...

z: this is not really the case with very complex subjects such as morals or evolutionary theory

b: Yes it is. Theistic morality requires just as detailed a description as any atheistic system. And in the rebuttals the theist has to be ready to explain himself as well.


Well, I'll agree that it requires a great deal of apologia to get a workable system of morals out of the Bible (how do you interpret "thou shalt not kill/murder" in every case, for instance?); but as to the source and/or justification for the morals goes, the Christians have it much easier: "God said so, and if we don't do as He said, we'll fry". Atheists have a much more complex set of justifications, including our genetic heritage as social animals, our cultural heritage as members of societies with institutions that work, more or less, and our intellectual heritage as rational beings who try to decide what will help create the kind of world we want our children to grow up in.

b: I don't see why a good biologist couldn't succinctly explain evolutionary theory. Seems you don't have much faith in your spokesmen.

What makes you think that? I do have faith in my spokesmen; and I know a bit about evolution myself, having done a minor in paleontology at UC Berkeley. But the subject is not all that simple, and obviously not well understood by many Christians.

z: The Bible, plus all its apologia, all the ontological arguments, and everything else that's been said about Christianity, is not to be compared in bulk or complexity with the corpus of scientific knowledge about the world. So it is not unfair to say that theists have a much simpler argument to make.

b: Most of which has been discarded as science evolves. Comparing the amount of things written about a specific subject is not showing how complicated an argument is, either.


This is true. But understanding the Ontological Argument, or the EAAN, is a piece of cake compared with understanding all the current knowledge about, say, biology, which is way beyond the capability of any single person.

z: All I can say is, dream on.

b: You're more than welcome to try to prove me wrong.


That's why I'm here. But I don't really care what you believe, as long as you behave nicely.

z: While I won't argue that theism presents a relatively coherent, consistent, and complete worldview, atheism does as well,

b: Atheism can't explain the basic reasons to accept the field of study they laud as the deliverer from the dark ages of religion. Science, for starters, is untenable on atheism.


Science is "untenable" on atheism? I don't understand: what does science say about atheism at all? And atheism, at least as I understand it, doesn't claim to "explain the basic reasons to accept the field of study they laud", meaning science, I suppose. Some atheists, and some theists too, do explain the basic reason to laud science, and I do as well: science delivers.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

Seth said...

Hi, I'm a new poster her on Brennon's Thoughts. My response is in reference to the age of the earth and being a Christian.
The Bible is not a science book and it doesn't try to be, so you won't find the age of the earth in Genesis. Yes, the word day is in the creation account, but when interpreted correctly, I think one can know it doesn't mean a literal 24 hour period.
Anyway, OEC and YEC has nothing to do with core Christian Doctrine and should not even be a "battle" between Christians. Yes, it's an interesting topic, very interesting, and can be discussed with civility, however it shouldn't divide Christians.

bossmanham said...

Zilch,

I don't remember making fun of your online name, and if I did the point that would have been made wouldn't havebeen relevant to anything. If I did that, then I'm sorry.

bossmanham said...

Maybe because I'm a different person? How does the agreement of two people "prove" who won?

It doesn't, but it raises the probability.

This is just restating the question: what does it mean to "give poorer arguments than your opponent"? And who judges this?

To give arguments that are either invalid or less plausible than their negations. See: a good argument.

The foremost is the same as not accepting leprechauns or dragons: there is no evidence for the existence of such beings.

Of which doesn't apply to God, since there are good reasons to believe in Him. Furthermore, as I've said before, a lack of evidence is not a positive case against the existence of something. You need positive arguments against the existence of God, otherwise atheism isn't justified.

There are many additional arguments against the God of the Bible, including the age of the Earth, the many contradictions within the Bible, the evidence for evolution, etc.

None of which would actually disprove God, even the God of Christianity.

What makes you think that? I do have faith in my spokesmen; and I know a bit about evolution myself, having done a minor in paleontology at UC Berkeley. But the subject is not all that simple, and obviously not well understood by many Christians.

That doesn't mean it can't be made to be understandable in a debate setting. If you have good arguments for your case then it should come out on top in the debate.

But understanding the Ontological Argument, or the EAAN, is a piece of cake compared with understanding all the current knowledge about, say, biology, which is way beyond the capability of any single person.

And yet you still don't get either.

That's why I'm here. But I don't really care what you believe, as long as you behave nicely.

You've never given a good argument against the existence of God.

Science is "untenable" on atheism? I don't understand: what does science say about atheism at all?

If science is the only real way to gain knowledge, which is what most atheists base their unjustified disbelief on, then it's self defeating. You can't justify the ability to gain knowledge on the scientific endeavor.

And atheism, at least as I understand it, doesn't claim to "explain the basic reasons to accept the field of study they laud", meaning science, I suppose

Because it can't. What is your justification for trusting science?

zilch said...

Hey bossmanham. You say:

Of which doesn't apply to God, since there are good reasons to believe in Him. Furthermore, as I've said before, a lack of evidence is not a positive case against the existence of something. You need positive arguments against the existence of God, otherwise atheism isn't justified.

What are your "good reasons" for believing in God? And why do I need "positive arguments" against the existence of God? It seems to me that the burden of proof more logically rests on the one claiming the existence of something: the non-existence of something that is not perceptible is rather the default position. Or do you have "positive arguments" against the existence of leprechauns, trolls, dragons, unicorns, et alia? Atheism is "justified" as being the simpler position than theism, until such time as evidence for the existence of gods is forthcoming.

If you have good arguments for your case then it should come out on top in the debate.

One would hope that the better arguments would come out on top, but that's demonstrably not always the case.

You've never given a good argument against the existence of God.

And you've never given a good argument against the existence of elves. The non-existence of imperceptible beings is the only reasonable default position.

If science is the only real way to gain knowledge, which is what most atheists base their unjustified disbelief on, then it's self defeating. You can't justify the ability to gain knowledge on the scientific endeavor.

I can justify the ability to gain knowledge in the same way I justify breathing: it works. I don't need any more justification than that. Words come after living and are subject to it, not the other way around. As Korzybski said: the word is not the thing.

cheers from rainy Vienna, zilch

bossmanham said...

What are your "good reasons" for believing in God?

Among them are the arguments from natural theology, historical case of the resurrection of Jesus, the coherence of the Christian worldview, the failure of naturalism as a worldview, the correspondence between the Biblical description of the human condition and the way it actually is, and my own personal experience. Where's the argument for atheism?

And why do I need "positive arguments" against the existence of God? It seems to me that the burden of proof more logically rests on the one claiming the existence of something

Because if you're making a claim to knowledge, that God does not exist, then you need to justify that claim with some arguments. Both sides make a positive claim to knowledge. Even if there were no reasons to believe in God, simply pointing at a lack of evidence is not evidence that He doesn't exist. It is not justifiable to assume the non-existence of something simply because there is no visible evidence. As atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen recognizes, "To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false...All the proofs of God's existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists. In short, to show that the proofs do not work is not enough by itself. It may still be the case that God exists."

Rather, agnosticism would be the only justifiable position if there were no evidence for God's existence.

the non-existence of something that is not perceptible is rather the default position

1) God is perceptible. 2) Wrong anyway. The absence of evidence at one point for the theory of evolution was not evidence that evolution didn't exist.

Or do you have "positive arguments" against the existence of leprechauns, trolls, dragons, unicorns, et alia?

Actually, yes. There are good reasons to not believe in those things that is added on to the fact that no one has seen them. For starters, we know that they are the inventions of the minds of imaginative storytellers who would testify to that effect. That is a strong defeater for the belief that any of those exist.

And you've never given a good argument against the existence of elves.

See above.

I can justify the ability to gain knowledge in the same way I justify breathing: it works.

Newtonian physics works pretty well, but it isn't true. Just because something works well doesn't mean your interpretation of it is true. Pragmatism is not a test for truth. Plus, pragmatism is an arbitrary and subjective judgment. What one person thinks is positive progress and "works" another may completely reject. Who decides if something "works." Who is judging what a positive result even is?

zilch said...

z: What are your "good reasons" for believing in God?

b: Among them are the arguments from natural theology, historical case of the resurrection of Jesus, the coherence of the Christian worldview, the failure of naturalism as a worldview, the correspondence between the Biblical description of the human condition and the way it actually is, and my own personal experience. Where's the argument for atheism?


As I said, the argument for atheism is the default position of disbelief in entities that are imperceptible. You've merely listed classical arguments for theism and Christianity; you have not proven them.

z: And why do I need "positive arguments" against the existence of God? It seems to me that the burden of proof more logically rests on the one claiming the existence of something

b: Because if you're making a claim to knowledge, that God does not exist, then you need to justify that claim with some arguments. Both sides make a positive claim to knowledge. Even if there were no reasons to believe in God, simply pointing at a lack of evidence is not evidence that He doesn't exist. It is not justifiable to assume the non-existence of something simply because there is no visible evidence. As atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen recognizes, "To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false...All the proofs of God's existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists. In short, to show that the proofs do not work is not enough by itself. It may still be the case that God exists."


I agree; it might still be the case that God exists, even if the proofs for His existence fail. But that does not shift the burden of proof, which is, after all, not logically binding, but simply a matter of tractability: it is intractable to prove the nonexistence of entities; if you claim that I must provide positive evidence that your God does not exist, then I can reasonably expect that you provide proof for the nonexistence of any number of imaginary beings. You can't prove that Diminutive Underwear Drawer Dwarves do not exist, can you? You are making the claim for existence; it is incumbent upon you to provide evidence, not on me to provide proof of nonexistence.

zilch said...

b: Rather, agnosticism would be the only justifiable position if there were no evidence for God's existence.

Would you describe yourself as "agnostic" about the existence of dragons?

z: the non-existence of something that is not perceptible is rather the default position

b: 1) God is perceptible. 2) Wrong anyway. The absence of evidence at one point for the theory of evolution was not evidence that evolution didn't exist.


God is perceptible? News to me. Where? And evolution is not a "thing" that exists, but rather an explanation for things that exist.

z: Or do you have "positive arguments" against the existence of leprechauns, trolls, dragons, unicorns, et alia?

b: Actually, yes. There are good reasons to not believe in those things that is added on to the fact that no one has seen them. For starters, we know that they are the inventions of the minds of imaginative storytellers who would testify to that effect. That is a strong defeater for the belief that any of those exist.


The same is true of gods: no one has seen them, and we know that they are the inventions of the minds of imaginative storytellers. That is a strong defeater for the belief that any gods exist.

z: I can justify the ability to gain knowledge in the same way I justify breathing: it works.

b: Newtonian physics works pretty well, but it isn't true. Just because something works well doesn't mean your interpretation of it is true. Pragmatism is not a test for truth. Plus, pragmatism is an arbitrary and subjective judgment. What one person thinks is positive progress and "works" another may completely reject. Who decides if something "works." Who is judging what a positive result even is?


You are assuming that there is such a thing as absolute truth, and that any description of the world which fails to be absolutely true is not true. Can you prove that this is the case? As far as I can see, all descriptions of the world are incomplete and imperfect, but some of them are good enough; for instance, Newtonian mechanics is good enough to send a man to the moon and back.

cheers from windy Vienna, zilch

bossmanham said...

As I said, the argument for atheism is the default position of disbelief in entities that are imperceptible.

And as I said, that is incorrect. Atheism is no more the default belief than a-martianism would be. Just because we lack evidence that there is life on other worlds doesn't mean we can conclude that there isn't.

You've merely listed classical arguments for theism and Christianity; you have not proven them.

They're argued for all over the place. You've merely listed no arguments for atheism and therefore haven't begun to prove anything.

ut that does not shift the burden of proof, which is, after all, not logically binding, but simply a matter of tractability

If you make a positive claim to know something then you bear a burden of proof to show HOW you know that. If you're claiming ignorance, then that's another story. But you're an atheist, so give me an argument for it. Why should I believe God does not exist?

it is intractable to prove the nonexistence of entities

No it isn't. You can prove the non-existence of something in many different ways, one of which would be to show the concept to be incoherent. I can confidently say that there is no such thing as a married bachelor. We can also, with a high degree of accuracy, say that there are good reasons to think that no Tyrannosaurus Rex exist today, because there is good evidence for such a conclusion. But to say "well I don't see any reason to believe in God, therefore He doesn't exist" is not only logically fallacious, it is intellectually lazy. I'm simply asking for one good argument from your side.

then I can reasonably expect that you provide proof for the nonexistence of any number of imaginary beings.

The fact that they are imaginary is good evidence that they don't exist.

You can't prove that Diminutive Underwear Drawer Dwarves do not exist, can you?

I could look in the underwear drawer, and I could also use the evidence that you just made them up right now.

Would you describe yourself as "agnostic" about the existence of dragons?

I think dragons in the medieval literature describe large reptiles that do or did exist. Modern depictions are confessed imaginative literary devices. There are several beings of which I am agnostic as to the existence of.

Where? And evolution is not a "thing" that exists, but rather an explanation for things that exist.

So you're saying that the process of evolution doesn't actually exist?

The same is true of gods: no one has seen them, and we know that they are the inventions of the minds of imaginative storytellers. That is a strong defeater for the belief that any gods exist.

Actually, this is false, since billions of people around the globe claim to have experienced God or a god or demons or many other beings of this sort and has been so for thousands of years. None of these people say that this was an imaginative story. The only people who conclude that are those with a prior philosophical assumption to begin with, but they have no evidence that they are correct.

You are assuming that there is such a thing as absolute truth, and that any description of the world which fails to be absolutely true is not true. Can you prove that this is the case?

Is that true about me or not?

all descriptions of the world are incomplete and imperfect, but some of them are good enough; for instance, Newtonian mechanics is good enough to send a man to the moon and back.

Which proves that some interpretation having practical value doesn't mean it corresponds to reality. So you're conceding this point?

bossmanham said...

Not to mention that you're not even acknowledging the good evidence that exists in support of God's existence.

KLDR said...

This argument is silly. It's impossible to prove god's existence to anyone other than yourself, as all evidence relies upon personal experience and belief. There is no current physical evidence, merely stories told of past events by authors long dead.

If a person has experienced god's presence, they know god exists. If they haven't, they don't. Just as there is no way to prove god doesn't exist to those who've experienced it, there's also no way to prove god does exist to those who haven't.

Now, if you want to offer a definition of god, we could attempt to debate whether or not that god could exist, based upon what type of world we live in. However, if god is not clearly defined, then it cannot be debated in a clear or useful manner.

Science is followed and believed because it has proven effective in creating testable and useful predictions. Evolutionary Theory is extremely important and useful in development of treatments for bacterial diseases.

Religion is scoffed at by non-believers, because it fails to produce testable and useful predictions for them.

P.S. "I don't have to appeal to sacred texts to conceive of God as the One which no greater can be conceived. He has the maximal greatness in all great making properties."
This definition includes greatest evil, FYI.