Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
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12-10-2013, 09:29 PM (This post was last modified: 13-10-2013 07:48 AM by Cathym112.)
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
The trouble i run into is that a theist will quote from the bible to prove his point.

I will counter with another quote that contradicts his quote.

Then the theist will counter that I'm misinterpreting it.

I respond - if the bible is subject to interpretation, how does he know he wasn't misinterpreting his first quote.

How do you handle a theist who argues from a literal standpoint in his quote - but anything I quote is just metaphors?

The argument is so stupid I am baffled at how to handle it. At that point I usually give up because they are so deeply infected with the god virus and their emotional need for god is so great that they will twist reality to fit their views.

I don't want to give up for the benefit of anyone reading the idiocy.

I tried to explain that for everytime a theist tells me about the mathematical impossibly of evolution, I tell them about the mathematical impossibly of the accuracy of the bible given faulty memory, countless renditions and translations, the evolution of language and the agendas of the authors.

They can't even fathom the idea that some of it may be completely fabricated. It doesn't matter that virgin births, crucifixion, risen after 3 days, floods, talking animals are told in countless other religious books (ie, not an original sorry)

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17-10-2013, 08:34 PM
Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
The theist will rationalize every absurdity in the bible by claiming it is a miracle. Think about, if you accept that a god created the entire universe out of nothing by merely speaking, what will you not accept? Parting the Red Sea, that's chicken shit compared to creation. So, the key is to show internal contradiction. That is, show the theist how one part of the bible contradicts another part. The two genealogies, for instance, don't even come close to lining up.

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17-10-2013, 11:33 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
Good stuff here...




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13-12-2013, 10:09 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(16-05-2012 05:42 AM)Zephony Wrote:  Recently, I was re-watching QualiaSoup's The burden of proof video when at one point several common arguments for god appeared on the screen and I realized I didn't know a single one off the top of my head. In order to better educate myself and others who may not know them as well, I'll try to explain some of the common debate arguments and how each is countered. Please add any arguments you feel us under-informed people should know about.

Ontological Argument
Ontology - The branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such.

One of, if not, the first ontological arguments came from Anselm of Canterbury. He defined God as the greatest possible being we can conceive and argued that this being could exist in the mind. He suggested that, if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. If it only exists in the mind, a greater being is possible - one which exists in the mind and in reality. In more layman terms, God is a perfect being. A perfect being must have all perfections. Existence is a perfection. Therefore, God must have existence. God must exist. To deny this is self-contradictory.

This was first refuted by Gaunilo of Marmoutiers using The Perfect Island argument. If we were to name this perfect island Serenity, and simply inject Serenity in place of God and replace being with island, we'd come to the conclusion that Serenity must exist, which it doesn't. It's a false conclusion and therefore Anselm's reasoning is flawed.

Argument from Beauty
Coming from the writings of St Augustine, beauty is something that transcends its physical manifestations. Since it transcends the physical and natural world, it must come from the supernatural, God's realm. Thus, beauty comes from the supernatural, God is supernatural, God must exist.

There's the saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." If beauty was created by God, wouldn't it be universal? Not everyone finds the same things to be beautiful, and beauty is constantly redefined by each generation (models for example). If every beautiful thing is not considered beautiful by everyone, it couldn't have come from God.

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG)
Transcendental arguments start from some accepted aspect of experience, and then deduces what must be true for that experience to be possible.

In the case of TAG, we start with logic, reason, and knowledge. It's argued that our logic is inherently circular (we use logic to create a hypothesis and then (dis)prove that hypothesis with logic). Therefore, we must conclude God is the source of our logic in order to avoid an infinite regress.

An infinite regress in a series of propositions arises if the truth of proposition P1 requires the support of proposition P2, the truth of proposition P2 requires the support of proposition P3, ... , and the truth of proposition Pn-1 requires the support of proposition Pn and n approaches infinity.

The main response to TAG revolves around the premise: "without a god, knowledge cannot exist." If the premise is indeed accepted, it can lead to the conclusion a god does exist, but the argument provides no demonstrated necessity to accept this premise. A transcendental argument for the non-existence of God has been put forward that uses the same unsubstantiated premise that "the existence of knowledge presupposes the non-existence of God."

Argument from Complexity
This is also known as irreducible complexity (IC), which was first coined by Michael Behe. It is used by supporters of intelligent design. If something is IC it must have a creator, and that creator being God. IC posits that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from natural selection. Behe defines an IC system as one "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."

Evolutionary biologists have shown that such systems can evolve, and that Behe's examples constitute an argument from ignorance. In the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, Behe gave testimony on the subject of irreducible complexity. The court found that "Professor Behe's claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large."

For a specific example, Behe mentioned the flagella of bacteria, which functions as a type of motor, requiring the interaction of about 40 protein parts. He asserts that if any of these 40 parts were taken away, the flagella would be unable to function. It has been shown that the base of the flagella is similar to the Type III secretion system of pathogenic germs. This TTSS is used by germs to inject toxins into cells. the TTSS shows that the flagella is not IC.

Mind-Body Problem Argument
The mind-body problem concerns how, if at all, the mind and body interact. There are two main schools of thought on the problem.

Monists believe only one type of substance makes up existence (matter: electrons, neutrons, protons, quirks... etc) They believe there is no problem because the mind is part of the body and interacts as any other body part would.

Dualists believe that the mind and body are two completely separate things made of separate substances. The body is made of matter while the mind is made of something else. Theists believe that the mind may be in fact your soul. If one's personal soul exists, then the Bible is correct in that your soul either ascends to Heaven or descends into Hell when one dies. This then proves the existence of God.

One way to argue against this and the dualists is by stating that the soul has not been scientifically proven to exist and it may be impossible even it if did exist because the soul is said to be metaphysical. Also, if a soul does exist, it does not automatically lead to the conclusion that a God exists and created it.

Cosmological Argument
The cosmological argument is an argument for the existence of a First Cause to the universe. This First Cause is claimed by theists to be their God. The argument is usually stated as such:
  1. Every finite and contingent being has a cause.
  2. A causal loop cannot exist.
  3. A causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
  4. Therefore, a First Cause (or something that is not an effect) must exist.
A causal loop or chain is a type of causality or causation. Causality is the relationship between an event and a second event where the second is a consequence of the first.

One variation of this argument is William Lane Craig's (WLC) Kalam Cosmological Argument. It states that:
  1. Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
  2. The universe has a beginning of its existence;
  3. The universe has a cause of its existence.
Of course WLC concludes that since the universe has a cause, it must have been God.

During the Scholastic era (1100-1500) St Thomas Aquinas created a predecessor to the cosmological argument; the Argument from Contingency. This argument builds on Aristotle's idea that "There must be something to explain why the Universe exists. Since the Universe could, under different circumstances, conceivably not exist (contingency), its existence must have a cause – not merely another contingent thing, but something that exists by necessity." In other words, even if the Universe has always existed, it still owes its existence to an Uncaused Cause,

This is by far one of the more difficult arguments to counter. I guess the best response would be that we currently don't have the answer, but that doesn't mean science won't figure it out, and just because it's currently unknown doesn't mean God did it. There was a time when we didn't understand what caused lightening, so we attributed it to Thor, Jupiter, and many other gods.

Lawrence Krauss has been publicizing the idea of "A Universe From Nothing." Basically, quantum fluctuations which pop in and out of existence account for most of the mass and energy, and yes, scientifically, something can come from nothing. A good video to help explain this idea can be seen here .

Argument from Degree
First proposed by St Thomas Aquinas, the Argument from Degree states: Objects have properties to greater or lesser extents. 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. Hence, there is an entity that has all properties to the maximum possible degree, and this entity is God.

Just because we can conceive of an object with some property in a greater degree does not mean that such an object exists. This reminds me of the Ontological Argument. We could also apply The Perfect Island to this argument. Islands have properties, therefore, a perfect island with all properties to the maximum degree must exist... but it doesn't. This again is a false conclusion based on flawed logic.

Argument from Reason
The most recent and one of the more famous proponents of this argument is Clive Staples (C. S.) Lewis. In Lewis' book Miracles the third chapter deals with the self-contradiction of the Naturalist.

Naturalism is defined as the world view that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual. This is the belief that all phenomena are covered by laws of science and that all the teleological explanation are therefore without value.

In its simplest form, this argument boils down to that without God, there could be no reason. We make inferences from observed facts, and we reason that our inferences are correct and sound. If reason is not absolute then reason is not reasonably logical, and all of our facts are no longer dependable nor true. So, reason must be absolute, and it must have come from God.

The best way I found to counter this is with a simple counter-example. This argument is implying that all false beliefs are formed causally, based on reason. This however is what some call a Possibility Fallacy, that is assuming that having no explanation is equivalent to not being able to have one. Simply because it just so happens that all false beliefs are formed causally, it does not follow that all causally formed beliefs are false. it's like saying "lunch meat is often baloney, therefore all lunch meat is baloney."

Anthropic Argument
The basis of this argument is the Anthropic Principle. This is the philosophical consideration that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it. In other words, the Universe is Fine-Tuned for the existence of life.

Two types of this principle are the Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP) and the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP). SAP argues that the Universe is "compelled" or driven to eventually create life, that possibly a higher being or God is compelling or driving the Universe. WAP brings in the Multiverse theory, that there are multiple universes. Only the universes capable of supporting life will life eventually form to observe their universe, while non-life supporting universes will never be observed.

Both SAP and WAP have been dismissed as truisms or trivial tautologies, that is, statements true solely by virtue of their logical form and not because a substantive claim is made and supported by observations of reality. Such an example would be the statement "if things were different, they would be different." If WAP is right and there are multiple universes, each being different from one another, it doesn't being to describe how they would be different. I believe there have been advances in research into the makeup of different universes via super computers, but that's for another thread.

A critical term was brought up in the first paragraph, Fine Tuning. Many theists cite how the universe is so finely tuned such that if one of any innumerable constants were changed, life would not be possible. I've seen/heard them talk about the gravitational constant, the mass of a proton, and several others, but I know of two big problems with this form of argument. First off, as mentioned above, this is a truism. Yes, if the mass of a proton were different, things would be different, but we have no easy way of showing how they would be different. It's possible in one universe where the mass was different there'd be no life, but also possible in another universe with the same different mass life would still exist, albeit in a different form than we know it. Second, the Universe itself isn't very fine tuned for life. The visible matter we see only makes up a small portion of the universe. Deadly gamma radiation all throughout the cosmos. The large, vast distances between planets, stars, galaxies. The size of the Universe itself. God needed to create something so large just so we could be born and occupy one planet out of the countless others?

Moral Argument
While there are many variations of this argument, they all follow the basic outline:
  1. Either moral objectivity exists or there must be a moral order in the universe
  2. God is the best explanation for this
  3. Therefore, God exists.
The problem with this is that not everyone finds the same actions or in-actions to be moral or immoral. Some cultures still find it morally just to chop the hands off a thief while others find this to be immoral. Some find homosexuality to be immoral based on their religious beliefs while others with similar or completely different beliefs find nothing wrong with it.

One scenario I find fascinating is The Trolley Problem. This states: You see a trolley flying down the track and is about to run over five people. There's a switch that can be thrown to divert the trolley, but instead of killing the five people, it'll kill one person. Would you throw the switch to kill the one person and save the five? An overwhelming majority of people say that yes they would. A variation of this is The Fat Man: You're standing on a bridge and see a trolley flying down the track and is about to run over five people. A large enough mass would stop the train and save the five people. A very fat person happens to be standing near by. Would you push this fat person onto the tracks and kill him to stop the trolley in order to save the five? Nearly all who answered yes to the original problem answered no to this variation. But what's the difference? Isn't the outcome still the same? Sacrifice one to save five? It's still a "net gain" of four lives.

Conclusion
Well... for those of you who read that entire wall of text, congratulations and thank you. It took me many hours in many days to look up, research, and read all of this information. I know this might have been better as a blog post or something of the sort, but I don't have a blog, and I honestly wasn't excepting it to be this long. As I said in the beginning, please add any of your own common arguments that you hear in your debates.. Also, please correct me on any part of any argument you believe I explained wrong, or could have done better on.

Okay, I encountered one years ago, and I don’t recall what it was called, but I don’t recognized it among those you listed. I thought it was just incredibly stupid, but it seemed to be recognized by other people on the thread. It was something like, You have to have something to use as a starting point for your truth, something to build on, my starting point is the Bible, what is yours. My reason, I would say. Oh no, that will never do, you have to name a starting point, which I would insist was my reason, and the pseudo-intellectual I was debating would claim victory. Anybody know what I’m referring to?

Absolute Certainty’s most constant companion is Wrongheadedness.
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15-12-2013, 05:15 AM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(22-01-2013 03:37 AM)Baud2Bits Wrote:  And with a little digging you will always arrive at the answer: "I know because I know"

What you have here is the misuse of words. "Know" does not mean "believe" which is what they are actually saying. "I BELIEVE because I BELIEVE."

I really hate this, and feel that we should not allow them to get away with such misuse, because it does score points for their side.

Si aliquis non persuadeo, te scribere coerceat.
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16-12-2013, 07:27 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(12-10-2013 09:29 PM)Cathym112 Wrote:  The trouble i run into is that a theist will quote from the bible to prove his point.

I will counter with another quote that contradicts his quote.

Then the theist will counter that I'm misinterpreting it.

I respond - if the bible is subject to interpretation, how does he know he wasn't misinterpreting his first quote.

How do you handle a theist who argues from a literal standpoint in his quote - but anything I quote is just metaphors?

The argument is so stupid I am baffled at how to handle it. At that point I usually give up because they are so deeply infected with the god virus and their emotional need for god is so great that they will twist reality to fit their views.

I don't want to give up for the benefit of anyone reading the idiocy.

I tried to explain that for everytime a theist tells me about the mathematical impossibly of evolution, I tell them about the mathematical impossibly of the accuracy of the bible given faulty memory, countless renditions and translations, the evolution of language and the agendas of the authors.

They can't even fathom the idea that some of it may be completely fabricated. It doesn't matter that virgin births, crucifixion, risen after 3 days, floods, talking animals are told in countless other religious books (ie, not an original sorry)

There is a wonderful new book out, it is like $11 on amazon or so. It is A Manual for creating atheists by peter boghossian, it is brilliant, truly.

I debate daily, and have a lot of experience with different types of debaters. If it is a literal word of god as per the bible theist, just pat them on the head and walk away. I have spent hours systematically dismantling this belief basis (bible) all just to get the GODDIDIT escapism excuse.

I have however had a lot of success using this book's epistemology approach. You dont criticize the individual as that just makes them go defensive, you dont attack the religion itself as that just gets you dogged down with hours of discussion on how this and that proves or disproves the bible..which I enjoy doing, but it is a time suck. You focus on the faith..."why do you believe"....if they answer the bible says so, it is the true word of god....I play to their ego..."okay, well surely as an intelligent human being, you have put more thought into it than just basing your faith, which is the belief in something without evidence, on a book right? So think about it for a minute, why do you believe?"

If they say something like "well the complexity of the world, you know, it is impossible this all happened by accident"...then you go with "okay, well just for the sake of discussion, because a close minded person has stopped learning, and I know you are willing to learn right?...lets say that if tomorrow science could answer all of your complexity questions...would you still believe? If they say yes, then you reply "great! so we have established that you don't believe based solely on complexity, just because science has not advanced enough yet to answer all the questions, so we can just take that off the table for the moment......so again, why do you believe..."

then you start whittling down the basis of faith more, gently discuss how using faith as a methodology for learning has been proven to be a failed epistemology. If a belief is based on insufficient evidence, than any further conclusion drawn from the belief will at best be of questionable value. This can not point one to the path of truth. The only thing faith can teach you, is the myth itself.

If they say no, then it is a done deal. "So you believe in a supernatural answer to the questions that science cannot answer ONLY because they havent been answered yet. I am confident you see that isn't a solid position on such an important question right? Surely you see this is not a valid way to learn knowledge? There are far better methods of logic and reason that are backed up with empirical evidence that we can utilize to answer these important questions." Lets look at the basis of faith together...where we as humans got the idea of god in the first place, lets discuss the creation of jesus the son of god story, what greek myths it was based on, how Luke took creative licence on his portrayal of jesus, the Census of Quirinius , Emperor Constantine, the life of constantine, the nicene council etc (this is when you start dismantling the belief system piece by piece without being overly helpful, lay the questioning attitude on them, bring up the subjects, let them take themselves down the path to the truth...then you plant seeds that grow into disbelief.

etcetc

If the theist sticks to quoting scripture, I dont even get engaged with that anymore, it is senseless. One cannot quote scriptures (argument from authority) as a proof of anything. If it is someone I think I can reach, I might spend time slinging scriptures back and forth a few times, then lean hard on the formation and creation of the bible, ( http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm ) is a great source, etc. If it is someone who is just a closed minded fundamentalist who believes in the literal word of the bible, I just match their scriptures with some of the following I created:

Goldilocks 1:14 - Thou shalt not sleep in someone else's bed.

Little Red Riding Hood 3:37 - Thou shalt not make fun of grandma's big mouth.

Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe 2:22 - Thou shalt not have more children then one can feed.

Hanzel and Gretel 5:17 - Thou shalt not eat an old witch's house.

The point being, quoting myth and controversy as a validation of ANYTHING is a moot point.

Good luck
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08-02-2014, 08:17 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
I got into a nasty youtube comment war (yes, I know, it's dumb to comment on youtube). The theist I was arguing with used the Cosmological argument, and it was him vs. 5ish other atheists.

His point was this: "Of course there was a Creator. It is well known that matter cannot create itself." He also ended every post with "Why do atheists reject science?" And despite using a capital C with Creator, he insisted it was not a religious argument. If you said "I am not sure if something can come from nothing," he would call you a science denier. If you said "it's possible that there was a creator," like a deist position, he would say "oh, so you are a Creationist. How long have you been a Creationist?" And yes, with capital C's.

His evidence was that Christmas presents do not manifest themselves under a tree, nor does a Corvette manifest itself on one's driveway. When you explain that the air is not "nothing" (i.e. oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen) and that his ridiculous argument is a ridiculous example of something from something, he would say claim "Strawman," and say that "matter cannot create itself, this is well known. I do not speak of something from nothing. You reject science."

When you told him, that his "Creator" required creating, he would say that a metaphysical creator does not need creating, and is not bound to the laws of physics, but refused to provide evidence or further information on the validity of metaphysics, but that we should know well established science.

What was even more frustrating, another commenter provided evidence of matter creating itself in the Hardon Collider, but the theistic commenter would just say "that is bald assertion, are you prepared to defend that?" I could not provide eveidnce for that, as the power of colliders is beyond my knowledge and understanding. However, other atheists did, he would not buy it, but keep making his assertion that "matter cannot create itself, therefore Creator above laws of physics, because of metaphysics."

When he was challenged to provide peer reviewed research, he would just say "This is known science. You should know. Why do atheists reject science?" (Kind of creepy if you ask me.)

It was one of the most frustrating comment/blog wars I had ever been involved in. He claimed science in such a way to be convenient to his point. I just had to stop the horrendous circular argument. I think I learned my lesson about youtube, especially since the title of the video was "Richard Dawkins Humiliated by a Christian."
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13-02-2014, 03:04 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(08-02-2014 08:17 PM)Rouge Jew Wrote:  What was even more frustrating, another commenter provided evidence of matter creating itself in the Hardon Collider,
Typo of the week!
Banana_zorro
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13-02-2014, 03:26 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(13-02-2014 03:04 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
(08-02-2014 08:17 PM)Rouge Jew Wrote:  What was even more frustrating, another commenter provided evidence of matter creating itself in the Hardon Collider,
Typo of the week!
Banana_zorro

For once I'm inclined to agree with you Laugh out load

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15-02-2014, 01:26 PM
RE: Commonly Used Debate Arguments for Dummies
(13-02-2014 03:04 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
(08-02-2014 08:17 PM)Rouge Jew Wrote:  What was even more frustrating, another commenter provided evidence of matter creating itself in the Hardon Collider,
Typo of the week!
Banana_zorro

Okay, that is good. Funny.
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