Debate: Jason Roberts vs Phil Stilwell – Absolute Certainty

Proposition:

  • Jason is rational in his 100% certainty he has a relationship with his god.

Participants:

  • Pro: Jason Roberts
  • Con: Phil Stilwell

Debate

  • Jason | Pro | 500 words

    My contention and my belief is that I have a personal relationship with God the Father through God the Son by the witness of the Holy Spirit. I am 100% certain of this belief.
    (Jason was reminded that he had been allotted 500 words, but gave assurances he was satisfied with his statement.)

  • Phil | Con | 500 words
    Jason has made the same blunder millions of theists have made over the centuries. He has confused the feeling of certainty with the objectively certain existence of the referent. This is a trivial mistake, but a mistake that serves as the foundation of faith the world over. I wish to dismantle this foolish notion comprehensively. Let’s first consider the following rigorous syllogism that contains the essence of my argument.

    Definition: Rational certainty is the degree of certainty commensurate to the degree of the available evidence.

    P1. All humans acquire knowledge through a medium/mechanism.

    P2. Knowledge that is acquired through a medium/mechanism is only as rationally certain as the reliability of the medium/mechanism.

    P3. The reliability of any medium/mechanism must be assessed inductively.

    P4. Any inductive assessment is, by definition, less than 100% rationally certain.

    P5. Jason is human.

    Conclusion. Jason does not have 100% rational certainty. (P1-P5)

    The syllogism is valid. All that remains is for Jason to logically dismiss any one of the assumptions. He won’t. He can’t. With the exception of P5, all these assumptions have endured the test of time.

    Jason has warm and fuzzy feeling about his god. Fuzzy feelings contribute not an iota to the substantiation his god-claim. Yet, as demonstrated above, emotional absolute certainty is the only type of absolute certainty Jason can possess. He possesses no rationally-obtained epistemic certainty that is commensurate to the degree of the inductively-derived evidential justification for that epistemic certainty. His entire worldview is based on wishes that have evolved into an emotional feeling of certainty. This is clear from the logical syllogism above. To the degree that Jason has confidence in the reliability of logic, to this degree he now understands his logical blunder in imagining he, as a human, has absolute knowledge in anything. The impossible infinite chain of mediums/mechanisms necessary to substantiate his claim will be forever missing.

    Jason claims the Holy Spirit is the medium of his 100% certainty that he has a relationship with his god. The next obvious question is, through what medium/mechanism did he assess the reliability (not to mention the existence) of the Holy Spirit? This is required for him to substantiate his claim that his epistemic certainty is rationally positioned at 100%. Any medium/mechanism Jason will employ to establish as 100% the reliability of the Holy Spirit will itself need to be assessed for reliability by yet another medium/mechanism such as his (fallible) mind which itself must be assess by yet another medium/mechanism…ad infinitum. Human knowledge is constrained to sub-absolute-certainty by this infinite regress of inductive assessment.

    Logic shows that Jason is wrong in his claim he has 100% certainty that he has a relationship with some god. Prior to this explanation, Jason might have been simply misguided. Assuming Jason does subscribe to logic, and is intellectually competent to follow the arguments, if he now persists in his claim, he is lying.


  • Well, it appears that we have misunderstood Jason’s position.
    After much evasion from Jason, the following exchange took place.

    Phil: Can you answer affirmatively any of the following questions?
    1. Are you 100% certain you have an actual relationship with your god?

    2. Are you 100% certain you have an imaginary relationship with your god?

    3. Are you 100% certain you think you have an actual relationship with your god?

    Jason: 3

    Jason’s position is much more profound than I imagined. He makes it clear that he was only talking about his 100% certainty that he thinks he has an actual relationship with his god. I completely concede this point. What profundity. I guess I lost this debate.


  • Jason | Pro | 300 words
  • Phil | Con | 300 words

  • Jason | Pro | 100 words
  • Phil | Con | 100 words


Notes:

  • Comments will be allowed only after the debate has been completed.
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