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The main question of this debate is “Does the Christian God exist?” I will be arguing in the negative.

Thank you, JD Curtis, for agreeing to have this very important debate. I hope our audience will really enjoy this and learn something. This is my opening statement, so this is not the time to address my opponent's arguments just yet; I will present four arguments to undermine Christianity/belief in the Christian god in my opening statement and will refute my opponent's opening statement in my first rebuttal. In order for my opponent to win this debate, my opponent's opening contentions need to stand and withstand my objections. If my opponent's arguments fail to give good reason/argument/evidence for his Christian belief, he loses this debate and fails to make his case. Additionally, if my opponent's arguments are undermined by my rebuttals, he loses this debate. In order for someone on the affirmative to win the debate, he/she has to meet the burden of proof. It is not up to me, today, to 'disprove' the Christian god, but rather it is up to my opponent to erect a case for Christianity. The issue here is also not for me to 'show atheism is true' or to 'prove atheism.' Both of these statements are incoherent and are a shift of the burden of proof. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in any gods. I am an atheist because I do not find any of the given arguments for any gods to be convincing; it is not a matter of “I believe there are no gods.” My atheism is similar to the 'a-ghostism' of the audience (I presume). I would wager that no readers of this debate believe in the existence of ghosts because the arguments given for ghosts are insufficient, for example. With that, I will move on to my first argument, 'the evidential problem of natural evil.' Argument One: The evidential problem of natural evil The evidential problem of natural evil is a well-known argument and a major threat to theistic belief. Christianity maintains that an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing god [an omni-good god] created the universe. When one looks around the earth, one sees an egregious amount of pointless suffering. One would not expect and should not expect to see an egregious amount of suffering if an omni-good god created the universe because such a being could prevent the suffering, would know how to do so, would be able to create a different universe, etc. It is quite easy to see the amount of deaths and suffering that are caused by purely natural causes that are guaranteed to happen because of the laws of the universe that Christians believe are established by God. Can one honestly believe that malaria, AIDS, Indian Ocean Tsunamis, Chilean earthquakes, and the like are the work of an omni-good god? In addition to human suffering, an egregious amount of animal suffering exists – ecosystems thrive because animals kill other animals, often in a slow and painful fashion. Does this seem to be the work of an all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing being? Common defenses to the evidential problem of natural evil – as we will probably hear in this debate – seem to ultimately miss the point/ignore the attributes of the alleged omni-good god. Defenses like “There is an unknown reason for the suffering in the world” or “Suffering is needed to build character and so that we can know good or God” seem to not recognize the alleged omnipotence of an omni-good god; God can simply have these 'greater goods' in a universe that is very much unlike ours or even like ours without the egregious amounts of unneeded suffering. Theists typically use the 'free will solution' to escape the problem of 'moral evil' – persons committing

heinous acts to other persons – to reconcile theism with moral evil. Although I don't think this is a good defense, and don't wish to argue this, I want to make it clear that my argument is focused on 'natural evil,' not 'moral evil.' I contend that 'natural evil' – earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, animal suffering, and the like – is incompatible with belief in an omni-good god and serves as a defeater to Christian belief. We understand that natural disasters are not the result of human behavior, but rather are a result of the natural laws of the universe, so the 'free will solution' can not work to address the problem of natural evil. To make this simple, I will posit a short deductive argument. Premise one: An egregious amount of unnecessary suffering exists. Premise two: An egregious amount of unnecessary suffering renders belief in the Christian god to be irrational. Conclusion: Belief in the Christian god is irrational. Arguments Two and Three: The implications of the evidential problem of good My opponent -- and most likely everyone reading this debate -- does not believe in an all-powerful, allknowing, and all-evil god (Let's call this an omni-evil god). While there is certainly an egregious amount of suffering in this world, one can see that individuals take pleasure in beautiful landscapes, raising children, successful relationships, and so much more. When we look at what I will call 'good' in the world, we can reasonably assume that belief in omni-evil god is profoundly unreasonable. Why, one wonders, would an omni-evil god allow so much good in the universe that flows from the natural laws of the universe? Perhaps my opponent would like to say, and perhaps may do so, that omni-good god's reasons for allowing suffering and death and/or guaranteeing that suffering and death that would result from the natural laws of the universe are unknown. “You can't know the mind of omni-good god!” he may say. My response to this hypothetical is “You can't know the mind of omni-evil god!” My response to defend omni-evil god obviously is irrational – and it is similar to that which a theist may give to address the problem of natural evil – so the similar defense given by the theist should likewise be rejected. If the amount of good in the world renders belief in an omni-evil god unreasonable, why doesn't the amount of suffering and death in the world render belief in an omni-good god unreasonable? If belief in an omni-evil god is profoundly irrational, why is it the case that belief in an omni-good god is not only rational, but profoundly rational? My opponent may provide several defenses for belief in an omnigood god (and perhaps does so in response to argument one), but even if this is the case, he still needs to show why belief in an omni-good god is profoundly more rational than belief in an omni-evil god. Perhaps my opponent will say, “Well, I don't believe in the Christian god because I look at the amount of good in the world,” but this misses the point of the argument. The issue here is not how one arrives at belief in an omni-good god, but rather what an evidential survey of the world reveals. We can find a sufficient amount of 'good' and 'evil' in the world to either conclude that a creator god, if one exists, is either omni-good or omni-evil [or perhaps 'neutral']. From this, we can look at the 'good' and conclude that there is no omni-evil god. Why, then, can't we look at the 'evil' and conclude there is no omni-good

god? My arguments are as follows: Premise one: There is just as much evidence from the goodness/evil of the world that the creator god is evil, as there is that the creator god is good. Premise two: We are justified in believing that evidence of goodness in the world demonstrates that there is not an evil creator god. Conclusion: Therefore, we are equally justified in believing that the evidence of evil in the world demonstrates that there is not a good creator god.

Premise One: Belief in an omni-evil god is profoundly irrational. Premise Two: Similar reasoning can be used to address the problem of natural good in defense of an omni-evil god as that which can be used to address the problem of natural evil in defense of an omni-good god. Premise Three: If such similar reasoning mentioned in premise two can be used, belief in in omni-good god is no more rational than belief in an omni-evil god. Conclusion: Belief in an omni-good god is profoundly irrational. Argument four: The inductive argument for naturalism Throughout human history, supernatural beliefs and explanations have gone to the wayside in favor of naturalistic explanations to create what I believe is a very strong inductive argument for naturalism – the philosophical belief that all that exists is the natural world. Here, I am not claiming any sort of absolute certainty, but rather am saying that naturalism is the most justified explanation of reality. Naturalism, of course, if true, is incompatible with belief in the Christian god because the Christian god is a supernatural entity. Here, I will build a case for naturalism and why one should reject supernatural beliefs. Humans, in the past, compared to those today, had a rudimentary understanding of the universe and were unable to explain certain phenomena, so they looked to supernatural explanations in order to account for what they did not understand. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods were thought to have been sent by the gods. Sickness and disease were thought to be the result of demons. Lightning was thought to have been the wrath of vengeful gods. Throughout time, as our understanding increased, supernatural explanations have been discarded in favor of naturalistic explanations; we now understand that we no longer need supernatural explanations to understand a great deal of phenomena in the universe. Throughout history, countless amounts of religions have been posited and, I would wager, the persons of the audience happily reject all of them or accept one of them.

Putting supernatural explanations aside for the moment, I will give a brief explanation of induction. Suppose that I am completely unsure about whether or not my hands will make a clapping noise when I would swiftly put them together. I can 'test' whether this would be the case and after many 'tests,' I would be very justified in believing that, for instance, if I were able to be unsure again, that the next sound would be a clap. It would be preposterous for me to assume that there would be no sound or a very different sound would occur. This is similar to my argument for naturalism and against supernaturalism. Every time a supernatural explanation is rejected in favor of a naturalistic explanation, we are more and more justified in believing that the next supernatural explanation will be rejected in favor of a naturalistic explanation. As knowledge increases, belief in the supernatural is less and less justified. Despite this, Christians, although they reject the demon theory of disease and many other supernaturalistic explanations, believe that some supernatural explanations – namely a supernatural entity, God, created the universe and God raised Jesus from the dead -- can adequately account for and lead one to be justified in believing supernatural explanations. An idea of “I don't know, therefore a supernatural phenomena must have occurred,” is quite popular today and undergirds much of supernatural belief throughout history. Instead of simply being happy with “I don't know,” persons take a further step and posit a supernatural entity? Why should this 'move' be justified? How can we ever be justified in believing supernatural explanations when such explanations have been rejected so much throughout history? What is so special about the Christian god that my opponent accepts arguments for this god and not others? Why should we be justified in thinking that particular supernatural explanations, or really any supernatural explanations, can adequately account for certain phenomena when history has shown us that supernatural explanations are put to the wayside in favor of naturalistic explanations? This inductive argument for naturalism should lead one to reject any sort of supernatural belief, namely those relating to Christianity. My argument, simplified, is as follows: Premise One: Naturalism, the philosophical belief that all that exists is the natural world, is very inductively justified. Premise Two: If naturalism is very inductively justified, we are justified in rejecting any supernatural explanations. Premise Three: The Christian god is a supernatural explanation. Conclusion: We are justified in rejecting belief in the Christian god. I contend that the evidential problem of natural evil and the inductive argument for naturalism undermine belief in the Christian god. Additionally, the evidential problem of good and its implications work to undermine belief in the Christian god and show that defenses the Christian god in light of the evidential problem of natural evil are irrational. You have heard my opponent's arguments for belief in the Christian god and you have heard my arguments against Christian belief. I will now move on to my rebuttal of my opponent's opening statement.