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Debate Score:35
Arguments:22
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God's Debris

This debate is going to be a little different then others. So please read the instructions in the description:

-I am basing the debate around the book God's Debris by Scott Adams.

-In order to participate I highly recommend you read it first, it is not very long and you won't regret it. I have posted the link to the online version of the book below.

-Because the novel covers a wide range of topics I am going to frame the debate by posting initial arguments, please respond to these.

-If you would like to talk about an issue that I have not made an argument for, you can create it and start the discussion


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The greatest flaw with the gedaken that I know of occurs during his spell on evolution.

1. Evolution does not explain life, evolution explains how life changes

2. Evolutionary theory does contain an application; selective breeding. This is where all our specialised high yielding crops and livestock stem from.

3. Mutations do occur today, such as the hexadactyl limb from the pendactayl limb http://www.bbspot.com/News/2008/04/six-fingered-man-barred-from-guitar-hero-tournament.html as well as citrate fixing bacteria http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14094-bacteria-make-major-evolutionary-shift-in-the-lab.html

4. Evolutionary regression does occur, such as the Bats of New Zealand having reduced flight capability and resuming foraging through leaf litter as their ancestors once did for insects

5. Fails to consider the role of natural selection as the primary evolutionary force, specialisation is favoured because it aids resource exploitation, simple organisms that already exist, exist in a highly competitive environment, specialisation and subsequent complexity helps organism find and utilise new resources

6. Misunderstands how evolution occurs, new species do not appear overnight, they gradually change from their ancestors.

On another note, although this addresses string theory which I do not comprehend well, it's assumptions on major physics principles are questionable.

7. Einstein's special relativity proposes that the speed of light through a vacuum is non variable, this is proved through it's implications such as time and mass dilation as well as length contraction which have been proven via jets, atomic clocks, particle accelerators and detectors.

8. The speed of light is not constant, it can be slowed; http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/1999/ 02.18/light.html

9. Does not address other, more widely accepted theories in physics such as the standard model of matter, which accounts for the properties of light and electromagnetism

Otherwise, Scott Adam's proposal on the mind as a metaphor generating deluded artifact stands, with some infusion from Dawkin's Memes: The New Replicators (from The Selfish Gene)

Side: Critique

Is Ockham's razor (the simplest answer is usually the correct one) generally true?

Side: Framing the debate
2 points

In order to answer the question properly, I'll just to have clear up exactly what Occam's Razor states, as to say that "the simplest answer is usually the correct one" is a slight misrepresentation of it.

The principle basically states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible. When multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. This is an important distinction to make, as the correct theory may well be extremely complex but require the least amount of assumptions to be made in order for it to work (for example, natural selection over intelligent design).

In general this is a good thing to keep in mind when comparing different theories, but whilst it will probably hold true in the majority of cases, it certainly doesn't indicate that the chosen theory is definitely the correct one. To answer the question though, I would say that Occam's Razor is definitely a good principle to hold, and in most cases would probably see you selecting the correct theory (or at least the most correct of the currently available theories).

Side: Framing the debate

No. There are no absolutes. If we cannot know anything for certain, then the simplest answer may not be correct.

Side: Framing the debate

Can we ever really know anything for certain?

Side: Framing the debate
3 points

To me, the answer to this question depends on what you are happy to accept as certainty. There are at least two (there may be more) major differing views that can be taken on this.

We could take the view that as nothing can be considered absolute due to our extremely limited senses, we can never be sure that what we know is certain. Our reality is built simply on what our senses allow us to see, and whilst we can experience a wide variety of senses, there is certainly no way for us to be sure that this is all there is. Turtles, for example, can distinguish four distinct colours with their eyes where as we can only see three. Obviously we have technology now that allows us to see certain things we can't see with the naked eye, but understanding the limitation of our senses and the reality that our brain constructs allows us to become aware of the fact that there may well be more to this world then we currently do or will ever know.

We could however, as I do, take the view that the idea of certainty only applies to the reality that we have constructed for ourselves, and anything outside of this reality is completely and utterly irrelevant. I'm certain that if I drop a pencil, it will fall to the ground. This may well be an illusion either constructed by my brain or from some outside source, however that is completely irrelevant. All that matters is that the reality I perceive remains constant, and therefore I can say with certainty that the pencil will drop.

It's an extremely difficult concept to understand; the fact that our brain takes in signals and then constructs a representative illusion of the signals it receives which is essentially my little version of reality. But as long as it always constructs the same illusion for me and reacts in a consistent way to the signals it receives, then that is good enough for me to say that there really are some things that we do know for certain.

Side: Framing the debate

No. We don't have a full and complete model of the universe in both the macro and the micro scale. We also don't have ESP. All we can do is deduce things based on past experiences.

Side: Framing the debate

Do you agree that the brain is a delusion generating machine?

Side: Framing the debate

Yes, because we create our own reality. If you chose to look for racism, you'll find it everywhere if you don't, you'll miss it every time you blink.

Also, if you have more than one person having one particular experience, they will experience it differently.

The brain is only capable of interpreting what the senses tell it but it adds it's own biases and that's when the illusion is created.

Side: Framing the debate

Is there such a thing as free will?

Side: Framing the debate

Yes, you are free to chose your illusions.

Side: Framing the debate

What are your thoughts about the author's idea of levels of consciousness?

Level 1: Consciousness at birth: pure innocence, self-awareness.

Level 2: Awareness of others, and acceptance of authority (a belief system).

Level 3: Awareness that some beliefs may be wrong, but not which ones.

Level 4: Skepticism and adoption of scientific method.

Level 5: Avatar level, understanding that the mind is a delusion-generating machine, and that science is another belief system, although a useful one.

Side: Framing the debate

I like to think that I'm at level 5. The mind is a delusion-generating machine so I cannot be certain of anything. Science is another belief system but a useful one. Just sit back, don't vote, and enjoy the ride. ;)

Taking anything too seriously is foolish.

Side: Framing the debate

Why would an Omnipotent God create people?

Side: Framing the debate
2 points

There is no logical reason, other than his pure enjoyment.

Side: Framing the debate
2 points

I haven't read the book myself, unfortunately I don't have the time to read 144 pages, but I'd like to contribute to this debate as it's one of the few debates on subjects that I actually care about.

The scenario described by Joe in one of his arguments (about game developers) isn't anywhere near the level of power that an omnipotent god would be able to wield. Whilst the developers of the game might be able to, as you put it, open a debugger and change the outcome (which they probably can't anyway), they certainly didn't know even before they made the game exactly what you would be doing in every part of every quest that they already have made or may happen to make in future.

The problem with an omnipotent (and from the way this question has been posed, I'm assuming implied omniscience) god is that regardless of any choices you or he may make, he already knows the outcome. He may decide to intervene and change things, but he too would have already known he was going to intervene and what outcome it would have had before he even did it.

An omnipotent god creates a huge logical quandary in which his supposed power becomes his own downfall, especially in regards to humanity. Postulate a scenario in which you are about to create life, but before you even do so you know everything that will ever happen to each and every creature you will ever create; every choice made, every word uttered, every movement performed, where all of humanity will simply be a long and drawn out puppet show that you've already watched a million times over in your head. Why would you bother even creating them? How could you create places such as heaven and hell, which are meant to reward the good and punish the bad, already knowing exactly who will end up where regardless of the choices they make in life?

It's an extremely sick god who would spawn a world of his own imagining, making people play out their part like actors in a stage show, only to end up with an eternity of damnation that they never had a chance of avoiding. An omnipotent god, then, would only create people in order to watch them suffer.

Side: Framing the debate

Entertainment. Maybe our world is a game, similar to World of War craft, for some other being(s).

Side: Framing the debate
1 point

But an omnipotent being would already know what would happen. There would be no point in creating anything because he would already know the end. This is addressed in the book, and you would know that had you read it.

Side: Read the book
1 point

Is the red plaid blanket in the package the same one as the blanket worn by the old man?

And how does the Avatar's existence fit in with his own philosophy?

Side: Read the book

Are there any logical flaws in God's Debris, and if so what are they and why?

Side: Framing the debate
1 point

Yes. I argue that the Avatar's existence falls outside of his own universal understanding.

And the blanket seems to be in two places at once.

Side: Framing the debate