Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
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27-01-2012, 11:55 AM
Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
Alright, so I need a bit of help and I'm not quite sure where to ask this so I thought I'd try here. My first philosophy class of the semester was yesterday and I had a little argument with my teacher. It started when he asked the class to tell him whether they are theist, agnostic, or atheist. Since this is a fairly religious school about 85% of the kids answered they were theist, the rest said they were agnostic, and I was the only one that said I was an atheist. Then the conversation went something like this:

Teacher: "Alright Daniel, can you provide one proof that God doesn't exist."

Me: "I'm not really a fan of that question. That's like me asking you to provide proof that unicorns or leprechauns don't exist. The proof is that there is no proof."

Teacher: "Stop speaking for yourself. There are actually several concrete proofs that God exists."

Me: "If there were several proofs, then we wouldn't be having this discussion"

Teacher: *Anger starts rising in his voice* "There are concrete proofs. Stop 'scaring your classmates' with false claims. Thomas Aquinas provides 5 solid proofs of God's existence and we will start off our next class with a discussion about his work."

I could not continue the debate further since I have never read any of Aquinas proofs. So I come to you guys to give me some info that disproves Aquinas's proofs. I have read his work today and it just seems like he has a very limited knowledge of the universe and is just filling in the gaps with God. Is there anything else I'm missing. Any other information I could use to disprove Aquinas's "proofs"

Thanks in advance! Finally, is there any other arguments that my professor can use to prove God's existence besides Thomas Aquinas's five proofs? I would just like to be ready for anything.
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27-01-2012, 12:28 PM
RE: Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
Thomas Aquinas 5 proofs have been refuted in a thread here somewhere. I'll have a look and see if I can give you the link.
Also welcome to the forum.Smile

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27-01-2012, 01:05 PM
RE: Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
That question is silly.

No one is omniscient, therefore, we can never know 100% if there is or isn't a God.

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27-01-2012, 01:15 PM
RE: Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
I'd punch your teacher in the face.



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27-01-2012, 01:26 PM
RE: Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
Go get the book " The God Delusion" by Dawkins. He discusses and debunks this in chapter 3 I think-- read that chap before your next class.. Maybe give a copy to your prick teacher Smile

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27-01-2012, 01:59 PM
RE: Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
(27-01-2012 11:55 AM)Quik2832 Wrote:  Alright, so I need a bit of help and I'm not quite sure where to ask this so I thought I'd try here. My first philosophy class of the semester was yesterday and I had a little argument with my teacher. It started when he asked the class to tell him whether they are theist, agnostic, or atheist. Since this is a fairly religious school about 85% of the kids answered they were theist, the rest said they were agnostic, and I was the only one that said I was an atheist. Then the conversation went something like this:

Teacher: "Alright Daniel, can you provide one proof that God doesn't exist."

Me: "I'm not really a fan of that question. That's like me asking you to provide proof that unicorns or leprechauns don't exist. The proof is that there is no proof."

Teacher: "Stop speaking for yourself. There are actually several concrete proofs that God exists."

Me: "If there were several proofs, then we wouldn't be having this discussion"

Teacher: *Anger starts rising in his voice* "There are concrete proofs. Stop 'scaring your classmates' with false claims. Thomas Aquinas provides 5 solid proofs of God's existence and we will start off our next class with a discussion about his work."

I could not continue the debate further since I have never read any of Aquinas proofs. So I come to you guys to give me some info that disproves Aquinas's proofs. I have read his work today and it just seems like he has a very limited knowledge of the universe and is just filling in the gaps with God. Is there anything else I'm missing. Any other information I could use to disprove Aquinas's "proofs"

Thanks in advance! Finally, is there any other arguments that my professor can use to prove God's existence besides Thomas Aquinas's five proofs? I would just like to be ready for anything.

Read this paper, which summarizes the five ways and provides objections. A good intro to the five ways.

Also, take a look at this excerpt from J.L. Mackie's Miracle of Theism, a book that I have little doubt your professor both is familiar with and despises, pp. 91-92

Quote:...But what about the popular first cause argument? Can we not now answer our earlier queries? Why must the regress of causes in time terminate? Because things, states of affairs, and occurrences depend on their antecedent causes. Why must the regress lead to one first cause rather than to many uncaused causes, and why must that one cause be God? Because anything other than God would need something else causally to depend upon. Moreover, the assumption needed for this argument is more plausible than that needed for Leibniz's proof, or for Aquinas's. The notion that everything must have a sufficient reason is a metaphysician's demand, as is the notion that anything permanent must depend for its permanence on something else unless its essence involves existence. But the notion that an effect depends on a temporally earlier cause is part of our ordinary understanding of causation: we all have some grasp of this asymmetry between cause and effect, however hard it may be to give an exact analysis of it.

Nevertheless, this argument is not demonstratively cogent. Though we understand that where something has a temporally antecedent cause, it depends somehow upon it, it does not follow that everything (other than God) needs something else to depend on in this way. Also, what we can call al Farabi's principle, that where items are ordered by a relation of dependence, the regress must terminate somewhere, and cannot be either infinite or circular, though plausible, may not be really sound. But the greatest weakness of this otherwise attractive argument is that some reason is required for making God the one exception to the supposed need for something else to depend on: why should God, rather than anything else, be taken as the only satisfactory termination of the regress? If we do not simply accept this as a sheer mystery (which would be to abandon rational theology and take refuge in faith), we shall have to defend it in something like the ways that the metaphysicians have suggested. But then this popular argument takes on board the burdens that have sunk its more elaborate philosophical counterparts.

Note that this does not deal directly with all the five ways, it just deals with a common thread behind several of them; the termination of a supposed infinite dependence regress.

The third way, which is seen as easily the most powerful of the five ways, is the argument from contingency. I'm going to spend a little time on my own addressing this. The argument basically goes:

1. The universe, and the things in it, are contingent things. They exist, but they do not exist out of logical necessity. That is, there are possible worlds in which they do not exist.

2. For every contingent state of affairs, such as the existence of a contingent thing, there is a sufficient reason why it obtains.

3. The universe and the things in it must have a necessary reason why they obtain, since the universe is all contingent things.

4. That thing is God.

Here are the problems. While we might be tempted to challenge 1, it is actually more productive to challenge 2 and the inference from 3 to 4. Premise 4 is a controversial metaphysical assumption called the "principle of sufficient reason," which I will now abbreviate as PSR. This premise is actually unsound, and here's why,

First, imagine a massive logical conjunction, the conjunction of all contingent facts, which I will call the CCF. If the reason why the CCF obtains is contingent, then that reason would be part of the CCF. Here we run into a sort of Russel's paradox. The set of contingent facts cannot within themselves contain the reason why they obtain. But if the reason for the CCF is necessary, and since everything entailed by a logical necessity is necessary, then all facts would be necessary facts. This defeats the point of having a PSR.

The PSR is also not a presupposition of reason. All reason requires is that the existence of objects or states of affairs be explained in terms of antecedent conditions and causal relations, which are provisionally taken as brute facts until they are superseded by further investigation. Finally, it is perfectly possible that there are contingent yet independent beings which exist independently and "eternally" (that is, they require no external explanation of their existence) in the possible worlds in which they do exist, even though they don't exist in all possible worlds. Energy, or whatever our best physical theories take as primitive, could be this sort of thing. Interestingly enough, some sophisticated theists take the position that this is the sort of being God is (e.g. Richard Swinburne).

It is also worth noting that jumping from "necessary reasons" to "God" is totally unwarranted.

Other arguments to look out for

Take a look at this. It's an index of arguments used in favor of the existence of God in the top level of philosophy of religion, with detailed analyses and responses.

You may also want to look at the Iron Chariots Wiki, which has brief summaries of common theistic arguments and responses. The quality is mixed here, however. For example, the treatment of some of Aquinas' arguments are very poor.

In summary, the classes of arguments you have to be prepared for are:

-Cosmological arguments (what we've largely been discussing)
-Ontological arguments ("defining God into existence")
-Arguments from miracles (use the two Hs - history and Hume - here)
-Moral arguments ("but objective morality can't exist without God!")
-Arguments from consciousness (a sort of sophisticated God of the gaps)
-Theistic responses to the problem of evil (such as the free will defense)
-Arguments from experience ("I just know")

Good luck!

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27-01-2012, 02:11 PM (This post was last modified: 27-01-2012 02:14 PM by kineo.)
RE: Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
Here are a couple of brief explanations. Not that I think you should settle- I haven't read "The God Delusion", but it sounds like we both should.

This might help for a bit, but I'd object to any more on-the-spot debate demands like that, that's ridiculous. "Oh, sure, I'm fully equipped to argue the case against god with a philosophy professor right now, at this very moment. I don't need any notes or references or time to prepare because I'm totally ready to debate a "professional" who teaches his arguments on a daily basis and is in control of the direction of the class and my grade... this is totally a fair setting."

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?t...oved_mover

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/t...gical.html

The reality is that because we don't strictly know what existed before the Big Bang your professor and many others like to fill that knowledge gap with God. Just like has been done for nearly every other important question over time for which we did not yet have an answer. The prime mover argument is merely an extension of the same principle.
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27-01-2012, 02:12 PM
RE: Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
You'll have a better class if you refrain from doing this. He most likely is not interested in your points at all. He just wishes to use you as an example. If you do want to go at it, lets hope he likes challenges rather than just gives you trouble for being contrary.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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27-01-2012, 02:28 PM
RE: Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
He's either a dickhead or a good teacher.

If he really believes there is any proof of the existence of god, then he is a complete dickhead - because of the way he responded.

If he knows that those arguments are like Swiss cheese, then he has challenged you intellectually and emotionally to do your homework.

My money is on dickhead.

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27-01-2012, 04:54 PM
RE: Argument with my Philosophy Teacher
Totally agree with Chas.
I would add that if he is a dickhead he is also a very poor philosophy teacher as his response was not in the slightest philosophical it was pure hogwash leaving no room for debate.
I also agree with Germany.

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