Are you ready for this?

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This topic contains 65 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  TheEncogitationer 6 days, 10 hours ago.

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  • #34590

    Unseen
    Participant

    I’m betting all of us are ready to handle the run-of-the-mill arguments for God such as the design (watchmaker) argument or the cosmological (first cause) argument, for example. However, I’m betting that many of us, unless they’ve taken a philosophy of religion course, are unready for an opponent using the so-called “ontological argument.”

    First, what is ontology? It’s an area of philosophy that studies and discusses the concept of being.

    Now the first problem dealing with the ontological argument is that there is no single ontological argument. It’s best described as a family of related arguments all having one thing in common, which I’ll explain soon.

    The ontological argument can be as simple as “God embodies all perfections, and a nonexistent deity is less perfect than one who exists. Thus, God exists.” This is basically one way of putting the argument offered by its inventor, St. Anselm. Put that way, Anselm pointed out, to say “God does not exist” is an incoherent, self-contradictory statement.

    This simple argument embodies the one thing all ontological arguments have in common: there is no appeal to facts in the shared world of everyday experience. The argument depends entirely on language and logic. Highly sophisticated mdern versions use modal logic. “Modal logic is a collection of formal systems originally developed and still widely used to represent statements about necessity and possibility.” (Wikipedia)

    Here is an easily understood simple expression of a modern ontological argument using modal logic.

    Your refutation is…?

    #34592

    Before I attempt an answer would you agree that Ontology is more in the realm of metaphysics than philosophy – but I won’t labor that point too much.

    #34593

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    It seems to me the answer consists of:

    1) there is a most perfect thing in the universe; 2) the most perfect thing in the universe is God; 3) => God exists.

    I find that to be a flimsy chain of reasoning.

    #34594

    Unseen
    Participant

    Before I attempt an answer would you agree that Ontology is more in the realm of metaphysics than philosophy – but I won’t labor that point too much.

    You probably shouldn’t because “Metaphysics is the most abstract branch of philosophy. It’s the branch that deals with the ‘first principles’ of existence, seeking to define basic concepts like existence, being, causality, substance, time, and space.” (source)

    Metaphysics is encompassed by philosophy, not something other than philosophy, excepting its use by proponents of woo, of course.

    #34595

    Unseen
    Participant

    It seems to me the answer consists of: 1) there is a most perfect thing in the universe; 2) the most perfect thing in the universe is God; 3) => God exists. I find that to be a flimsy chain of reasoning.

    Explained that way, it’s laughable, of course. How about this version, though:

    1) God is a being who is superior in every attribute.

    2) A being which exists necessarily is superior to beings which exist only contingently.

    3) Since God’s existence is necessary, God cannot not exist.

    #34596

    Unseen
    Participant

    BTW, being and existence are synonyms in ordinary everyday English, with context deciding which to use based on extraneous concepts like euphony, end rhymes in a series, etc., but in some philosophical circles, they are fairly clearly distinguishable.

    When a philosophical distinction is being made, “being” has more meat on its bones and it’s most often applied to people as actors in the world. Sartre’s main oeuvre is Being and Nothingness and his existentialism is all about one’s relationship to one’s actions and choices. If you believe in free will, existentialism may be your philosophy because more than any philosophy of ethics, it is primarily built around the concept of free will.

    A human as a being is not the same thing at all as a human as an existence. “I seem to be a verb” applies to human qua being, not to human as extant object.

    #34597

    Unseen
    Participant

    We don’t normally cede much of our real estate here to serious religious scholars, but you can’t appreciate the ontological argument in all of its force unless it’s formulated by an intelligent and vigorous proponent of it like Dr. Alvin Plantinga, currently one of the reigning theological superstars.

    BTW, at about 1:45 in, they show several truly sophomoric “atheists” parodying the ontological argument. Embarassing.

    #34598

    TheEncogitationer
    Participant

    Unseen,

    What?  No 2 Unlimited soundtrack with this thread?😎😉

    On a more focused note, The Ontological syllogism above could only be valid and sound if the conclusion necessarily followed from the premises and if the premises were true.

    Since Theists haven’t established the truth of the premises i.e. that there exist perfect and imperfect deities,  at very least, the aregument is not sound.

    Also, since the premises contain the very conclusion they are supposed to prove, St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument is a Begging the Question Fallacy.

    With no valid, sound Ontological Argument, there is one less reason to believe that God exists.

    Since I don’t have a fedora to tip, a boony cap will have to do.🤠

    #34601

    Metaphysics is encompassed by philosophy, not something other than philosophy, excepting its use by proponents of woo, of course.

    Yes, I agree entirely. Let’s say that Metaphysics is one of the classrooms in the School of Philosophy.

    #34602

    Unseen
    Participant

    Since Theists haven’t established the truth of the premises i.e. that there exist perfect and imperfect deities, at very least, the aregument is not sound. Also, since the premises contain the very conclusion they are supposed to prove, St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument is a Begging the Question Fallacy. With no valid, sound Ontological Argument, there is one less reason to believe that God exists. Since I don’t have a fedora to tip, a boony cap will have to do.🤠

    Nice try, but the theist argues that his concept of God is conceived as a perfectly perfect being embodying all the superlative attributes. It’s not an existence claim they’d need to prove. It’s a definition. Your criticism is like saying “Prove to me that there are 12 inches in a foot.” Well, a foot is composed of 12 inches, by definition. That there are 12 inches in a foot isn’t a fact in the world, it’s conceptual.” The concept of God is the same.

    Their deity is a necessary being. A necessary being is by definition one which must exist. Ipso facto, such a deity exists because anything which must exist must actually exist. So, God actually exists.

    #34603

    Unseen
    Participant

    Metaphysics is encompassed by philosophy, not something other than philosophy, excepting its use by proponents of woo, of course. Yes, I agree entirely. Let’s say that Metaphysics is one of the classrooms in the School of Philosophy.

    The woo-sters will talk about pyramid or crystal power or parpsychology or witch spells and refer to that sort of stuff as “metaphysical.” That is not the metaphysics philosophers talk about, when they talk about it, because large blocs of philosophy don’t talk about metaphysics at all. They don’t necessarily snicker at it but it’s not a “thing” for them.

    #34606

    TheEncogitationer
    Participant

    Unseen,

    Nice try, but the theist argues that his concept of God is conceived as a perfectly perfect being embodying all the superlative attributes. It’s not an existence claim they’d need to prove. It’s a definition. Your criticism is like saying “Prove to me that there are 12 inches in a foot.” Well, a foot is composed of 12 inches, by definition. That there are 12 inches in a foot isn’t a fact in the world, it’s conceptual.” The concept of God is the same.

    Just perfectly perfect?   Not quintuple-smooth perfeckty perfectly perfect?  This could easily get into infinite regress territory.  Never thought a Theist would do that. 😁

    As this page below shows, the definition of a foot unit of measure is no metaphysical fact existing objectively in nature, but a highly arbitrary human convention varying with time and place:

    Foot–Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_(unit)

    So, are Theists who use the Ontological Argument also just using an arbitrary convention as a God?

    Their deity is a necessary being. A necessary being is by definition one which must exist. Ipso facto, such a deity exists because anything which must exist must actually exist. So, God actually exists.

    And who says a God is a necessary being and why do they say it?  Absent any reason for it, this statement above is just tautological and thus makes no new claim about a God that would be either provable or falsifiable.

    Between all these “perfectlys” and “very, very necessaries,” I feel like I’m listening to the Schoolhouse Rock song about Adverbs:

    Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here! 😎

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=14fXm4FOMPM

    #34607

    The woo-sters will talk about pyramid or crystal power or parapsychology or witch spells and refer to that sort of stuff as “metaphysical”.

    Yes, but only at the “quantum level” as Chopra would say 🙂

    #34609

    Unseen
    Participant

    So, are Theists who use the Ontological Argument also just using an arbitrary convention as a God?

    What is an unarbitrary convention, TE? As long as we are talking about the Christian deity, I think we’re stuck with a being defined by superlative-ness and perfection-hood.

    And who says a God is a necessary being and why do they say it? Absent any reason for it, this statement above is just tautological and thus makes no new claim about a God that would be either provable or falsifiable.

    The necessity comes as a consequence of the aforementioned attributes of God. And they say it because it’s part of the argument. Tautology? Don’t get me started. I’ll just point out that every definition is a sort of tautology, is it not? A foot is 12 inches is a foot is 12 inches is a foot ad nauseam.

    Only contingent statements about facts in the world are falsifiable. This argument hovers above all that sort of messy stuff.

    #34610

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    3) Since God’s existence is necessary, God cannot not exist.

    It looks like a complete argument here.  “God is necessary, therefore God exists”.

    Why is God necessary?  Because God is the most perfect being, and anything that is all-perfect is better than anything non-perfect, and is therefore necessary?  Lame.

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