There are many people who believe in a god. There are many people who believe this god created the universe. In this debate, my opponent and I will debate the evidence that has been presented for the existence of a god, with myself arguing against. My opponent's opening statement will address the specific concept of god that he will be attempting to defend in this debate. For my own opening statement, I shall attempt to anticipate some of the more general arguments that may be used.
First of all, what is a god? People have been defining and re-defining this term for millennia, and no real consensus has ever been reached. There are the Christians, whose god will be the main subject of this debate, who generally believe that this almighty creator of the universe is also a personal being, which is to say he takes emotional investment in the activities of humans. There is Japanese Shinto, featuring gods of varying degrees of power who are generally tied to some location or object. In ancient times you had the Greeks, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, all of whose gods looked and behaved like humans, including a sort of political structure. Then you have the deists, whose god is entirely non-personal, and bares little resemblance to the gods of old. Finally there are the pantheists, and the panentheists, whose respective concepts of what they call "God" bare no resemblance whatsoever to any religion at all!
We're here to debate the Christian God; the Catholic God; the God that Redsoxfan77 has chosen for his belief system. To properly define a god in this case, we must compare holy texts and see which other gods that God is most similar to. The previously-mentioned Greeks, Babylonians, and Egyptians seem to be the obvious choice: they take similar actions to each other, all cause global floods at some point, generally seem to take pleasure in meddling with human affairs, and at some point they all involve someone impregnating a human being. As far as definitions go, we seem to have a winner: a god is a human-like being with various abilities that defy the laws of physics, and at least in some cases capable of creating an entire universe.
Or do they really? Genesis 1:7 and 1:8 have this to say about the creation of the sky, evidently created after a "formless" Earth already existed for God to work from.
1:7 And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven.
Now this seems a rather strange thing to do: make a second ocean surrounding the Earth, and kept out by what is basically a glass dome. Well, it would have to be a glass bubble to cover a spherical Earth, but the Bible gives no indication that the Earth is anything but flat.
But then God does something damned peculiar with this "firmament" as we see:
1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
1:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
We'll get to what I bolded in a moment, but this makes it clear: everything we see in the sky is in the "heaven" half of the firmament, and "heaven" is explicitly the name given to the body of water held up by the firmament. So the sun, the moon, and the stars are all suspended in water. No interpretation, no embellishment: this is exactly what the Bible has to say about them.
"And he made the stars also." The Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB) makes a show of stating that, "at the end of a hard day's work, and almost as an afterthought, he makes 300 sextillion stars." Not so hard to believe, though, given that Genesis explicitly states that they're sitting in a body of water mingling with the sun and moon. These "stars" are not the burning balls of hydrogen we typically think of, but are basically celestial pixie dust.
This is definitely not the same so-called god that is described as having created the visible universe we now study in astronomy, nor the one who created the Earth that all other sciences focus upon. Indeed, as SAB once again points out, "In Genesis, the earth is created (1:1) before light (1:3) and the sun and stars (1:16); birds and whales (1:21) before reptiles and insects (1:24); and flowering plants (1:11) before any animals (1:20)." This is out of order and, in a couple places, ass-backwards compared to what we can currently prove and demonstrate about how all of these came to exist.
Now some will say that Genesis is allegorical, that it is not meant to detail the actual world's creation. To this I say: Back when this was written, stories like this were commonly used across all cultures world wide to explain why the world worked the way it does, because they had no scientific understanding to investigate for themselves. In that context, there is no reason to believe that the authors of Genesis believed anything less than the literal truth of the words.
Others will say that Genesis actually was inspired by God, but that the authors simply misunderstood. To this I must ask: What did God tell these guys to make them think that the Earth was the first thing ever made, that whales existed before there was a land mammal to evolve into them, that burning balls of gas many light years and parsecs away are actually florescent dust particles sitting very close to home, and that space is an actual ocean that can be unleashed on planet Earth to cause Noah's flood? You'd think an all-knowing God would understand how to properly teach these subjects so that there would be no confusion once he had them write it down; the fact that he evidently did not write it himself raises many questions of its own.
To paraphrase well-known atheist YouTuber AronRa:
Any document written or inspired by a supreme being would contain knowledge and wisdom so profound that no rational human being could deny the value of its contents. This text would not be subject to different interpretations, as any interpretation could only detract from the document's profundity. It would also be 100% consistent with all scientific observation, requiring no faith to believe its contents. There would therefore be no religion based on this document since its validity would be so painfully obvious that no cult following would be necessary to promote it.
From the very beginning, the Bible instantly fails this criteria, as I have demonstrated. This makes any of its claims extremely suspect, not the least of which is the existence of a being it claims created the universe.
The Bible makes very specific claims about God. One of them is his method of creating the universe, which is evidently false. But it gets even more specific in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. YouTube user Thunderf00t explains better than I could:
A volcano? Certainly sounds like it. It actually makes a bit of sense when you think about how God reportedly "parted the waters" to reveal land. It's not so different from what a volcano appears to do as lava flows into the ocean, is it not? Much easier to believe, even, if you believe the world is flat, which these people probably did. But as we know today, a volcano can't possibly have created the Earth: it needs magma from the Earth's mantle to do any of the so-called creating to begin with!
Some might cry "allegory" again, but again I say: there is no reason to believe any story in the Bible was intended to be anything but what the authors honestly believe to have happened. Claims otherwise are purely a product of post-revisionist thought by theologians who were attempting to keep up with the Enlightenment and make sure their Church remained relevant.
Now some folks will make a final argument, that regardless of anything else I say: God speaks to them. He speaks to them when they pray, he speaks to them on various other occasions when their mind is quiet. Frankly, that's so easy to explain with the psychological phenomenon of the simulacrum I almost don't have to argue the point. A simulacrum is any object to which an individual attributes qualities it does not actually have, which simulates an experience. If someone likes to wear a lucky pendant, they honestly believe the pendant is lucky, and anytime they themselves get lucky while wearing that pendant will be attributed to the pendant. This mixes with confirmation bias: anytime they get unlucky with the pendant, or lucky without it, that memory is quickly forgotten. It's the same with God: your brain is like a computer, and just as you can subconsciously create various mechanisms such as obsessions and phobias, you can create a simulacrum. It feeds you "messages from God" in a simulation of the actual experience. It will do this most often when you are conditioned to expect it. No God, just you, yourself, and your mental partitions. It's hard to doubt this when so many conflicting messages come from people all claiming to have spoken with the same god. Any claim to the effect of, "Well, my
experience was definitely real," is confirmation bias at work.
To summarize: God is the product of various ancient peoples not understanding what was happening in nature. He is not a real entity, he did not perform any of the actions attributed to him, and he certainly doesn't talk to people. While a deistic creator may very well be beyond the scope of scientific investigation, this Heavenly Father is pathetically easy to bring down to Earth and smite with his own scriptures.