“Does God Exist?”—A Debate at Penn State, Fayette, November 11, 2010

Doug will debate Michael Shermer at Penn State Fayette, November 11, 2010.

Topic: “Does God Exist?”

For details, go here and here.

If you plan to attend the conference, Doug welcomes the opportunity to meet you and to hear from you in the comments box of this post.

About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

7 Responses to “Does God Exist?”—A Debate at Penn State, Fayette, November 11, 2010

  1. David Milliern says:

    I think you did a good job of responding to some of his foolishness, but he ignored your better points, which is a good debate strategy on Shermer’s part. I don’t think it is possible to do anything except break even when arguments are based on reason alone. I think the way you win is by kicking the legs out from his argument. Perhaps, demonstrating that physics cannot be the basis for physics is the way to go. This is sort of a cosmic petitio principii on Shermer’s part. To further this point, I would suggest employing Kant’s antinomies from the “Critique of Pure Reason.”

    One suggestion I have, in regard to quantum mechanics, is to ask the question, “What is random?” Random is a garbage term that guys like Shermer and physicists like to apply to things that seem mystical to them. For example, physicists cannot accept that there is a possibility of some structure that constrains the physical world but is metaphysical, and does not avail itself to the direct or indirect human senses.

    Another question I think you should ask, which is the soul of science and has been the fulcrum of all philosophy of science, “What constitutes a necessary causal connection?” This crushes his Baconian view of science and leave him defending his position from the inductive-irrational standpoint that Hume had of science.

    Once you lure him into an undeniably irrational standpoint, I think there is one more question to ask, “When one is compelled by the animal impetus to act in a given situation, on what basis does a person choose to reason his way through his/her options?” I hope this is clear, because it would take quite a bit of explication, otherwise.

    I have a million proposals, but I think it would have done justice to note that not all experience cannot be reduced to, and subjected to, reason. The experiential aspect is the real advantage that you have. There are affects that each of us have experienced and, no matter how mundane, it is impossible to communicate them to another person, let alone codify them as logical atoms. I am not just thinking of Soren Kierkegaard, but Soren is a start.


  2. Doug Geivett says:

    Hi Kris,

    This debate wasn’t video-recorded. If I learn of a satisfactory audio recording, I’ll post that information.

    The debate that I just did in Puebla Mexico was recorded, televised, and placed on YouTube. Here’s the link for all details: https://douggeivett.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/does-the-universe-have-a-purpose-debate%E2%80%94mexico-november-13-2010/


  3. kris says:

    Is this debate available online somewhere? Keep up the good work


  4. Doug Geivett says:

    Hello David,

    Did you attend the debate at Penn State? If so, how do you think it went? If you were there, you know I presented various probabilistic arguments for the existence of God. I claimed that it is more likely that God exists than it is that God does not exist, given the evidence.

    Thanks for your interest!



  5. Doug Geivett says:

    Hello Brien,

    It’s great to hear your positive evaluation, given your sympathy for the atheist side of the debate.


  6. Irish says:

    I attended this debate and enjoyed it. Although I remain in the other camp with respect the topic in question, I really appreciated your framing the debate as a matter of evidence and logic. This made for an even playing field and precluded a potential derailment by the two sides talking past each other. I wise others would use the same approach to framing contentious questions.


  7. David Milliern says:

    Hello! One of my hobbies is the examination of proofs for and against the existence of God, and I am looking forward to hearing you speak. I do not know whether you intend to attempt a proof or demonstrate the defensibility of the position that God exists, but my prayers are with you. The former would be particularly interesting, because I am fairly convinced that such a proof, for or against the existence of God, is not possible.


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