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Thread: Common Arguments

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    Default Common Arguments

    Hey, common arguments for/against the existence of a God or Gods, I'll state the assumptions required for each, and a possible debunking of the argument afterwards if I can be bothered.

    Argument from Design

    1. Appearance of design in the universe suggests a designer.
    2. Design is observable in the universe.

    From 1,2, a designer exists.

    Possible refutations.

    Appearance of design in natural systems in naive. Water expanding in a circle (techincally a very thin cylinder) on the ground would hence suggest that Euclid is drawing the expansion using a protractor and rule - using the same derivation.

    Statistical likelyhood of a complex designer is unlikely, as complexity and entropy increase. Complex here could mean the usual three omnis and indeed a fully sentient, transcendental mind.

    Rebuttal: What can we know about the truth value of the proposition "A non-empty set of transcendental concepts exists"? - nothing, as it's a priori beyond our reckoning.

    It's possible to follow the rabbithole down to "What is knowledge?", it's generally defined as "justified true belief" - but that's a crappy definition, if you're interested google "Gettier problems".

    General Argument from Beauty/Love/Logic/Ziggybookydook

    1. Beauty/Love/Logic can be universally experienced.
    2. The origins of such are sketchy and seem to be beyond our reckoning.
    3. Therefore they were created by something beyond our reckoning.

    Possible refutations:
    1. "Can" is iffy, any conditional statement is necessarily true. "X can be Y'd", so long as X is sufficiently related to Y - is true.

    2. Appeal to ignorance, this step's intellectually bankrupt.
    3. This one follows from 2.

    NB: Ziggybookydook is not a real word.

    But so long as something is sufficiently complex for us to not have a full understanding of it (usually a a concept, sorry to use this phrase again, which people define a priori as transcendental - which makes any statement saying " some transcendental concepts exist" a tautology within a deductive system) the argument can seem convincing.

    Also - abiogenesis, evolution, all subjective concepts can be explained concordantly with scientific naturalism - positing an alternative claim, while allowed, will generally not be as justified as the empirical, scientific naturalistic approach.

    For a brief run through of abiogenesis, incase you guys don't believe me.

    Fatty acids form circles due to the Coulomb force (and molecular geometry), the circle is very permeable and thus allows molecules inside of it. Complex molecules inside of the fatty acid circle increase osmotic pressure and cause the fatty acid circle to expand. Fatty acids tend to attract eachother so a large fatty acid circle would attract more - getting larger and larger. So it goes on in a circle - this is the origin of competition (precursor for evolution).

    It follows that molecules inside of the fatty acid membrane... if they could create more of a shift in osmotic pressure the vesicle would expand - thus making them larger, which means that inner molecules being able to form large polymer chains, maybe self replicate, form ionic lattices - things like that, would provide a competative advantage.

    There, origin of life and evolution.

    Concepts of love, beauty, hope and all that can be reduced to survival mechanisms, or as Neitzsche would have it WILL TO POWER.

    The Ontological Argument

    1. A concept of divinity exists.
    2. This concept is perfect in all ways.
    3. Therefore omnipotent (perfect power).
    4. A divinity could not have "maximum affectuality" (be omnipotent) if it couldn't affect things.
    5. A divinity must exist to affect things.
    6. A divinity exists.

    Rebuttal: philosophy's still in uproar about this question "Is existence a predicate/perfection?"

    The ontological argument, while being able to prove - possibly, that a divinity exists - it does not prove YOUR divinity exists, and only possibly works if your divinity has no flaws (the idea of being flawed is subjective, also, that's a buttock for the argument).

    It cannot be used, like the rest of these arguments, to justify a personal faith.

    Historicity of Divine Claims

    Too many holy books, too many messiahs to count.

    Miracles are the usual example - specific instances of such cannot be attributed to a personal divinity.

    Most of them are "God caused this miracle because I say so." and "God's miracle is evidence of God's existence" - which are appeal to authority and circular reasoning respectively.

    Pascal's Wager

    1. Assign infinite gain to going to Heaven.
    2. Assign infinite loss from going to Hell.
    3. Infinite gain is a good thing.
    4. Therefore believe in what would give you this infinite gain.

    The wager can be generalised to any divine reward/punishment system, it is NOT a justification for beginning to believe in a system of divinity, however it can be used as a justification for continued faith.

    However, the assignation of infinite gain to a concept whose existence is sketchy is, at best, very flawed - Pascal's Wager provides no knowledge as to the existence of a divinity.

    tl;dr - you're an apatheist.

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    Arguments Against Certain Concepts of God

    Epicurus' Problem of Evil

    1. A divinity is omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly kind.
    2. Evil and suffering exist.
    3. Therefore this divinity is either not omniscient, not omnipotent or not perfectly kind.

    Christians and Muslims get around this one with free will, apologetics has this one owned. Infact if a faith can't stand up to the Epicurean problem of evil, it's not worth believing in IMO.

    Again, this one cannot attain knowledge of the truth value of the existence of a divinity - as a concept of divinity's existence is assumed as a premise of the argument.

    Arguments from Empiricism

    1. God is unobserveable.
    2. Therefore no God exists.

    The other side of a cow exists when you look at it, if it didn't its organs would spill out, nevermind the existence of ABSTRACT NOUNS - anyone who tries to pull this stunt in a theological debate is a nob end.

    Stronger version of the same argument.

    1. The mind of a god is unreckonable.
    2. Therefore no claims about the mind of said God are justifiable.

    Assumes the mind of a God is unreckonable - if your god is defined as understandable some how (most Gods are defined as intransient and aspatial, they are hence defined as unreckonable) the problem dissolves - but someone's divine claims are vulnerable to the exposition of a paradox or unreconcilable contradiction, which would render their belief unjustified.

    The latter point is the only strength of this argument in a theological debate - as it can prove that the set of all transcendental Gods is unknowable, hence the status of someone's personal God cannot be _knowledge_ (it can still be believed however, if some people are into belief without evidence).

    Sociopolitical Influence on Divine Claims

    Christians believe in the Christian God due to their environments, largely, same with muslims, buddhists - all religions. Even counter culture ones like, for example, a more literal and gnostic theist's interpretation of the TLO or MLO's beliefs.

    All this one can do is possibly reduce someone's beliefs down to a defense mechanism - it's essentially a personal attack.

    tl;dr for the first but not the second - you don't challenge your beliefs enough.

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    A Genuinely Sophisticated Form Of The Cosmological Argument.

    This post has been highly edited, warning.

    1. It is possible that a necessary being explains the contingent universe.
    2. If something is possibly necessary, then it exists in all possible worlds.
    3. Whatever exists in all possible worlds exists in the real world.
    4. Therefore, a necessary being exists in the real world.

    (copied from some random forum, thought it was interesting)

    Strongest argument against it that I can think of: "being" has all predicates stripped from it besides the concept of necessitiy, all the argument proves if it's true is that an infinite and arbitary set of necessary beings exist. It is no logical justification to any one faith.

    Of course a God can exist when you can call God whatever the sod you want so long as a God is defined as necessary.

    2 may seem counter intuitive but it's true. There's a pretty simple proof from formal logic. Going to use "x" as an arbitary proposition, "!" to symbolise "is necessary". "¬" to mean "negation/inversion/THE NOT GATE IF YOU'RE INTO COMPUTERS) and "p" shall symbolise that something is possible and "->" symbolises implication. It would be possible to say the argument without this shorthand, but it would be more confusing.

    Consider the statement "If it is known something is not necessary then it is not possibly necessary."

    ¬!x -> ¬!px

    Take two arbitary statements, Y and Z.

    Y -> Z, ¬Z -> ¬Y

    That's a valid argument form.

    Apply this to the previous statement with Y = ¬!x and Z = ¬!px

    ¬!x -> ¬!px
    !px -> !x

    (negating a negation leads to affirmation... Two negatives makes a positive, lol.)

    Which means "If something is possibly necessary then it is necessary." IE "If it is possibly necessary that God exists then it is necessary that God exists."

    The link between point 1 and 2 is where the argument falls apart.

    Does an explanation for the contingent universe make a concept possibly necessary? Why would this follow?

    Johnny killed Steve. Johnny wanted to kill Steve.

    The result is the same regardless, Steve is dead. The argument could be strengthened by changing "explain" to "created." So let's go with that.


    1. It is possible that a necessary being created the contingent universe.
    2. If something is possibly necessary, then it exists in all possible worlds.
    3. Whatever exists in all possible worlds exists in the real world.
    4. Therefore, a necessary being exists in the real world.

    Contingent here meaning "unknown as to its creation." Ironically, the statement from earlier can help this argument's rebuttal:

    ¬!x -> ¬!px

    "If something is not necessary then it is not possibly necessary"

    If God didn't necessarily create the universe then God did not possibly necessarily create the universe. Is invoking a God necessary to quell our ignorance of our contingency of the creation of the universe?

    It might be, but it isn't _necessarily_ the only explanation.

    Furthermore, the assumption is made that the universe was created in a sense that would be intuitively familiar to us. If it was not creation ex nihilo there would be no need to invoke a transcendent God. So creation from nothing is also assumed. And there is a fairly intuitive argument against that. But it hinges on your definition of nothingness.

    I define nothingness as such "An absolute lack of everything physical or beyond physical", which equates to "Nothingness asserts the set of all sets is empty." And there're plenty of responses to creation ex nihilo, here's a Blue Peter one... I mean Youtube.

    The set of all sets is empty - then the set of all sets contains the empty set because the empty set necessarily exists.

    Asserting "There is nothing" yields "There is nothing and an empty set" which yields "There is the empty set, and a set containing the empty set" which yields "There is the empty set, a set containing the empty set, and a set containing the set which contains the empty set." This is recursive, which means an infinite number of distinct concepts can be proved to exist if there is an "absolute lack of everything" - a contradiction. Then creation ex nihilo is impossible.

    If nothingness is defined in the sense of an absolute lack of _physical_ attributes, then we must invoke a transcendent, omnipotent aspatial being to explain creation ex nihilo.

    Which leads us back to this form of the cosmological argument.

    Consider the statement, and take "=" to mean logical equivalence/iff/if and only if.

    px = ¬!¬x

    "x is possible is equivalent to it is not necessary that x will not happen"

    Substitute this equivalent into the previous formal logic.

    ¬!x -> ¬!(¬!¬x)

    "it is not necessary that x if it is not necessary (that it is not necessary that x won't happen)"

    Which begs the question - if something is necessary, is it necessarily necessary?

    Edit: made a ridiculously silly error, correcting it, symbols mean the same as they did before.

    !x = ¬p¬x
    !!x = ¬p¬(¬p¬x)
    !!x = ¬p(p¬x)
    !!x = ¬p(¬!x)
    !!x = !x

    So necessarily necessary is the same as necessary, lawl.
    Last edited by Plarkenstorf; 08-05-2009 at 05:17 AM.

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    I've nearly finished Richard Dawkins the "God Delusion" he pretty much provides good arguments against all arguments for God(s), which to be honest don't really sound like very solid arguments at all. Which is the problem really, no one has a solid argument for their existence.

    Does this mean they don't exist? Or do we need to reconsidor what Gods are etc?

    I say the latter based on experiences. One in particular gives me most food for thought. In that I had a subjective experience of an "entity" but also a very objective result in relation to the ritual and it's aims.

    So I'm inclined to believe something exists, but I am inclined to believe if they do, they aren't as grand and as powerful as we believe them to be. They aren't omni this that or the other and they certainly didn't create the universe or us (how could something that complex exist back then?).

    What if anything does exist actually is, is another matter.

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    Isn't personal experience the most rebuked reason ever for the justification of faith?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Plarkenstorf View Post
    Isn't personal experience the most rebuked reason ever for the justification of faith?
    Well yes. But still the experience I described had a major impact on me, not purely because of the "subjective" experience, I'd already had those, but because what I wanted to happen, happened that Night.(And it wasn't something I could achieve by normal means) Some might argue it was coincidence and it might yet be. A purely subjective personal experience I could reason away. One where the result was real and there for all to see is much harder.

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    I'm not here to question the validity of magick vis a vis itself. The arguments used against the validity of magic are much different beasts than the ones used against divinities. Unless divinities are claimed to influence respective magickal processes.

    Playing Devil's Advocate, however. Treating prayer as a ritual, some things which are prayed for every day will happen. That does not prove the existence of God, despite it being in the same vein as your experience.

    Many people claim to have seen God and heard the teachings straight from the source. These include Westborough Baptist Church and Abraham sees god in the oak trees - these experiences are of different Gods, convey very different messages yet are both given the selfsame validity?

    Furthermore: James Randi Educational Foundation

    If you genuinely can manifest magick under scientifically rigorous scrutiny, you'll be a very rich man if you do the Randi Foundation challenge.
    Last edited by Plarkenstorf; 08-06-2009 at 04:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Plarkenstorf View Post
    I'm not here to question the validity of magick vis a vis itself. The arguments used against the validity of magic are much different beasts than the ones used against divinities. Unless divinities are claimed to influence respective magickal processes.

    Playing Devil's Advocate, however. Treating prayer as a ritual, some things which are prayed for every day will happen. That does not prove the existence of God, despite it being in the same vein as your experience.

    Many people claim to have seen God and heard the teachings straight from the source. These include Westborough Baptist Church and Abraham sees god in the oak trees - these experiences are of different Gods, convey very different messages yet are both given the selfsame validity?

    Furthermore: James Randi Educational Foundation

    If you genuinely can manifest magick under scientifically rigorous scrutiny, you'll be a very rich man if you do the Randi Foundation challenge.
    I wasn't very clear in what I was referring to or why it would be relevant here. The experience I had was in working with demons. The subjective experience I had whilst doing the ritual was the sensation of a "door" opening in my room and "something" passing through the room. The follwing day I discovered the purpose of the ritual had been fulfilled. Though I'd had a previous experience with a "demon" this one really threw my athiesm, or I should really say agnosticsm into question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Belasko View Post
    It took a lot of Oxygen to post this? Tut tut. Now really!
    Welllllll It's not like it's in short supply now is it? Oh no it is I'm turning blue

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    Quote Originally Posted by Belasko View Post
    It took a lot of Oxygen to post this? Tut tut. Now really!
    It took a bit to post that too. :P

    Quote Originally Posted by Diabolos11 View Post
    Welllllll It's not like it's in short supply now is it? Oh no it is I'm turning blue
    Would you please detail your experience from before?

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