The ontological argument

Meaning_Of_Life
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The ontological argument

SHORT VERSION

(1) God's existence cannot be denied without self-contradiction.

(2) Therefore, God exists.

 

LONG VERSION

(1) God is either nothing more than a concept in the understanding or he exists in reality in addition to the understanding.

(2) God, as a concept, refers to an ontologically infinite being, which, by logical necessity, would entail that his being cannot be contingent upon anything.

(3) If you say that God does not exist in reality, then you are saying either that (i) the conditions of reality are such that this being does not exist in it, which is saying that a non-contingent being is contingent, or (ii) you are saying that the concept of God is self-contradictory, which is not the case since two or more mutually exclusive ideas are not among its contents, or (iii) you are saying that the concept of God is not thought for the sake of reference much like numbers, grammatical operators, or logical principles are not thought for the sake of reference, which is clearly not the case because God, as an ontologically infinite being, would also be the all-encompassing source of being and therefore capable of action, and such a being is not in the same category as a number or linguistic operator.

(4) Since the concept of God is not contradictory, and the concept of God is thought for the sake of reference, and the existence of such a being cannot be dictated by the state of the world, the only option is that God exists in reality as well as in the understanding.

 

OBJECTIONS ANSWERED

(1) This argument can be used to prove the existence of anything, so long as we assign the property of being "ontologically infinite" to it.

ANSWER:  (a) This objection says nothing about where the argument goes wrong.  It just asserts that anything which is ontologically infinite must exist, which I'll agree with.  (b) Arbitrarily assigning ontological infinitude to something is not permissible if the something in question is limited by its very nature.  For example, a chimera is thought to be composed of multiple animals.  Yet conceptually, there is an incompleteness because such a being has the potential to be greater, in some aspect, than it already is.  Moreover, a material thing, such as a chimera which theoretically has a body, is composed of many parts and, insofar that the parts are arranged one way and not some other, you would automatically think of this being as being contingent.  (c) The idea of God does not posit any limitations, as there is no spatial or temporal extension nor is there an incompleteness in spiritual qualities such as moral perfection or knowledge. 

(2) Numbers do not exist in reality, yet they are neither self-contradictory nor are they dictated by the conditions of the world.  Therefore, it may be that God does not exist in reality even though the concept is not self-contradictory and includes self-existence in the definition.

ANSWER:  Numbers, like all other abstract entities, are not thought for the sake of reference.  They are thought for the sake of practicality.  God, in order to possess any currency for the theist, must be thought to refer to a real thing.

(3) For all we know, the concept of God may be self-contradictory.

ANSWER: The burden of proof is on the atheist to demonstrate how this could be the case.  Such an objection is tantamount to pleading ignorance in other areas as well, given the imperfection of human knowledge.  You may as well say that for all we know, the concept of gravity may be self-contradictory or that, for all we know, our understanding of cosmology is self-contradictory.  Our nature is incomplete and we must deal with it. 

(4) This argument does not prove the God of the Bible.

ANSWER: That's not the point of the argument.  The point of the argument is to refute atheism, that is, to show that atheism itself is intellectually bankrupt insofar that its worldview is based on a self-contradictory premise.

 


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Are you a presupper?

Are you a presupper?


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My problem is that the

My problem is that the argument is to prove that God exists ontologically (providing God with an ontology). It begins by defining God as a being with an ontology.

While that might make your work easier, it isn't an argument.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:God,

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
God, in order to possess any currency for the theist, must be thought to refer to a real thing.

So, God must exist because the theist wishes God to exist?

This is a non-sequitur, and does not address the objection. It merely attempts to divert the question-begging nature of the ontological argument into a discussion of ontological necessity.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Behold...

 

it's fucking groundhog day...


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nigelTheBold wrote:

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
God, in order to possess any currency for the theist, must be thought to refer to a real thing.

So, God must exist because the theist wishes God to exist?

This is a non-sequitur, and does not address the objection. It merely attempts to divert the question-begging nature of the ontological argument into a discussion of ontological necessity.

No, God exists because his non-existence cannot be logically accounted for. 

There are only two possibilities:  God exists or he does not.

Since the second disjunct posits a self-contradiction, it must be the case that God exists.

We logically account for non-existence in three ways:  (1) We say that the world is such that this thing was not caused, or (2) we say that the concept of this thing is logically contradictory, or (3) we say that the concept of this thing is an abstract entity not meant to refer to any thing at all.

Since the non-existence of God does not fall under the three criterion, he must exist by default.

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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:No,

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

No, God exists because his non-existence cannot be logically accounted for. 

There are only two possibilities:  God exists or he does not.

Since the second disjunct posits a self-contradiction, it must be the case that God exists.

We logically account for non-existence in three ways:  (1) We say that the world is such that this thing was not caused, or (2) we say that the concept of this thing is logically contradictory, or (3) we say that the concept itself is an abstract entity not meant to refer to anything.

Since the non-existence of God does not fall under the three criterion, he must exist by default.

 

The non-existence of god/s/dess does fall under all three criterion:

1) Every theist here insists god/s/dess was NOT caused, but is the primal cause.

2) god/s/dess is logically contradictory because you started by saying s/he/it/they were infinite which is logically impossible

3) I don't know how the concept of god/s/dess could be anything BUT an abstract entity - an invisible friend to those who need a hug and an invisible father figure to those who need to be punished.

I'm not a philosophy major for a reason - I don't like sitting around chasing my tail trying to prove abstract shit that is unimportant to getting on with living a life.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:No,

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
No, God exists because his non-existence cannot be logically accounted for. 

There are only two possibilities:  God exists or he does not.

Since the second disjunct posits a self-contradiction, it must be the case that God exists.

We logically account for non-existence in three ways:  (1) We say that the world is such that this thing was not caused, or (2) we say that the concept of this thing is logically contradictory, or (3) we say that the concept of this thing is an abstract entity not meant to refer to any thing at all.

Since the non-existence of God does not fall under the three criterion, he must exist by default.

Uhm . . . no. As an abstract idea, like numbers, God does not have to have an actual referent. So (3) is the correct and logical conclusion. God's non-existence does not posit a self-contradiction unless you are begging the question of God, which is the logical flaw that forms the basis of the ontological argument.

As I said, this is all posturing designed to draw attention away from the question-begging nature of the argument.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Meaning_of_life

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
God, in order to possess any currency for the theist, must be thought to refer to a real thing.

So, God must exist because the theist wishes God to exist?

This is a non-sequitur, and does not address the objection. It merely attempts to divert the question-begging nature of the ontological argument into a discussion of ontological necessity.

No, God exists because his non-existence cannot be logically accounted for. 

There are only two possibilities:  God exists or he does not.

Since the second disjunct posits a self-contradiction, it must be the case that God exists.

We logically account for non-existence in three ways:  (1) We say that the world is such that this thing was not caused, or (2) we say that the concept of this thing is logically contradictory, or (3) we say that the concept of this thing is an abstract entity not meant to refer to any thing at all.

Since the non-existence of God does not fall under the three criterion, he must exist by default.

 

 

                   You work under the delusion that some kind of god exist;  it does not.  If you have some kind of proof that there is a god;  please do give us this evidence,  I among so meny others would endever to hear it.

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nigelTheBold

nigelTheBold wrote:

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
No, God exists because his non-existence cannot be logically accounted for. 

There are only two possibilities:  God exists or he does not.

Since the second disjunct posits a self-contradiction, it must be the case that God exists.

We logically account for non-existence in three ways:  (1) We say that the world is such that this thing was not caused, or (2) we say that the concept of this thing is logically contradictory, or (3) we say that the concept of this thing is an abstract entity not meant to refer to any thing at all.

Since the non-existence of God does not fall under the three criterion, he must exist by default.

Uhm . . . no. As an abstract idea, like numbers, God does not have to have an actual referent. So (3) is the correct and logical conclusion. God's non-existence does not posit a self-contradiction unless you are begging the question of God, which is the logical flaw that forms the basis of the ontological argument.

As I said, this is all posturing designed to draw attention away from the question-begging nature of the argument.



Abstract ideas are not sentient, active, nor do they stand in causal relations.

The idea of God is the complete opposite.

Therefore, in order for you to account for an atheistic worldview, you need to explain how it is possible that God does not exist due to him not being caused, or due to him being caused not to exist, or how the God concept is self-contradictory.

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Meaning_Of_Life

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

 

Abstract ideas are not sentient, active, nor do they stand in causal relations.

The idea of God is the complete opposite.

Therefore, in order for you to account for an atheistic worldview, you need to explain how it is possible that God does not exist due to him not being caused, or due to him being caused not to exist, or how the God concept is self-contradictory.

I've bolded the part that seems to be the source of your confusion.

The idea of God is in fact an abstract idea, and is not sentient, active, nor does it stand in causal relations. As stated in your own ontological argument, the abstract concept of God may not have an objective referent, handwaving about "infinite ontology" aside. You have smuggled the existence of God into the argument by equating it with the abstract idea of God.

And that is the source of the question-begging of all variations of the Ontological Argument.

Therefore, in order for you to account for a theistic worldview, you need to explain how it is possible that God must exist based on the idea of God. As it has been amply demonstrated that conception does not equate to existence, that's a long row to hoe.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold

nigelTheBold wrote:

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

 

Abstract ideas are not sentient, active, nor do they stand in causal relations.

The idea of God is the complete opposite.

Therefore, in order for you to account for an atheistic worldview, you need to explain how it is possible that God does not exist due to him not being caused, or due to him being caused not to exist, or how the God concept is self-contradictory.

I've bolded the part that seems to be the source of your confusion.

The idea of God is in fact an abstract idea, and is not sentient, active, nor does it stand in causal relations. As stated in your own ontological argument, the abstract concept of God may not have an objective referent, handwaving about "infinite ontology" aside. You have smuggled the existence of God into the argument by equating it with the abstract idea of God.

What I meant was that unlike numbers or logical principles, the idea of God is thought to refer to a real thing which is sentient, active, and stands in causal relations.  If you are attempting to account for the non-existence of God by saying that "God" is an abstract idea such as a number, then you've yet to justify this, as it is pretty clear that the "God" concept is nothing like the concept of a number.

Remember, non-existence in the sense that I've been using it means that there is a concept which has no point of reference. 

"Chimera" has no point of reference because nature has yet to give us sufficient conditions for such an animal to evolve.

"Unmarried bachelor" has no point of reference because it is a contradictory idea.

"543" has no point of reference because it is an abstract idea which is not thought for the purpose of referring to a thing that is "out there".

The existential import of concepts is evaluated in terms of the attributes that you assign to the purported referents.  If I say that my concept of God refers to something outside of my mind, then you cannot simply argue, "No.  It's an abstract idea."  You would ask me what properties I assign to this being and then evaluate its existence in terms of those properties. 

In the same way, if I decide that I no longer want to think of a number as an abstract object, then I am allowed to do that.  You would simply evaluate the truth of my existential claim by determining what properties I assign to this number. 

In this case, I am saying that God is an infinite being, unlimited in perfection.  Under your worldview, what is precluding the existence of such a being?  It can't be the fact that such a thing has not been caused in nature, since such a being would not be so ontologically limited as to require a cause, and you could not say that the idea is logically contradictory, since it does not contain two or more mutually exclusive ideas.  So, what are you left with?

There are only two possibilities here.  God either exists or he does not exist.  If you cannot logically account for one, then the other is validated by default.  You have not shown me that his non-existence can be accounted for.

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Unfortunately for you, the

Unfortunately for you, the argument you use to prove he exists has to assert his existence by defining him into being.

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This is another example of a theist

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

The existential import of concepts is evaluated in terms of the attributes that you assign to the purported referents.  If I say that my concept of God refers to something outside of my mind, then you cannot simply argue, "No.  It's an abstract idea."  You would ask me what properties I assign to this being and then evaluate its existence in terms of those properties. 

In the same way, if I decide that I no longer want to think of a number as an abstract object, then I am allowed to do that.  You would simply evaluate the truth of my existential claim by determining what properties I assign to this number. 

In this case, I am saying that God is an infinite being, unlimited in perfection. 

 

attempting to define god into existence. You can't logically prove the existence of god without assuming your first unprovable premise.

The rest of your argument, based on god's special status as not needing to offer the usual proofs of existence through his lack of ontological limitation, is special pleading in extreme form.

'Unlimited in perfection'. What the hell does this mean? By what yard stick are you measuring perfection, Meaning-of-Life? Please elaborate on how you personally established this 'fact'.

 

 

 

 

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 Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

 

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

LONG VERSION (1) God is either nothing more than a concept in the understanding or he exists in reality in addition to the understanding.  
  I don't understand the relevance of understanding in this argument.  It seems that you can remove the underline portions with without affecting the argument.  Please explain why understanding is important for this argument.    
Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
    (2) God, as a concept, refers to an ontologically infinite being, which, by logical necessity, would entail that his being cannot be contingent upon anything.  
    Why can't an ontologically infinite being be contingent upon anything?     For example what if I said god had a pet pink unicorn named Bobo.  It is god's nature to create Bobo such that if god exists Bobo exists as well.  Bobo's existence is contingent on god's existence.  It would seem that Bobo's existence is infinite if god's existence is infinite.  Why is this logically impossible?  Perhaps I don't understand what you mean by an ontologically infinite being.  Would you define that term?   
Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
    (3) If you say that God does not exist in reality, then you are saying either that (i) the conditions of reality are such that this being does not exist in it, which is saying that a non-contingent being is contingent, or (ii) you are saying that the concept of God is self-contradictory, which is not the case since two or more mutually exclusive ideas are not among its contents, or (iii) you are saying that the concept of God is not thought for the sake of reference much like numbers, grammatical operators, or logical principles are not thought for the sake of reference, which is clearly not the case because God, as an ontologically infinite being, would also be the all-encompassing source of being and therefore capable of action, and such a being is not in the same category as a number or linguistic operator.  
    This seems like a false dilemma to me.  Why does it have to be (i) or (ii) or (iii)?  Why cant it be (i) and (ii)?  Why can't it be (i) and (iii)?  Why does it have to be one of these three options at all?  Also if something doesn't exist how can it be a contingent being or a non contingent being?  How can something that doesn't exist have any properties at all?  
Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
  (4) Since the concept of God is not contradictory, and the concept of God is thought for the sake of reference, and the existence of such a being cannot be dictated by the state of the world, the only option is that God exists in reality as well as in the understanding.  
  The concept of God can take on many different forms.  Some of those forms may be self contradictory and some of them may not be self contradictory.  God is defined however people define him/her/it/them.  Are you working from a specific definition, and if so what definition are you using?    
Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
  OBJECTIONS ANSWERED (1) This argument can be used to prove the existence of anything, so long as we assign the property of being "ontologically infinite" to it. ANSWER:  (a) This objection says nothing about where the argument goes wrong.  It just asserts that anything which is ontologically infinite must exist, which I'll agree with.  (b) Arbitrarily assigning ontological infinitude to something is not permissible if the something in question is limited by its very nature.  For example, a chimera is thought to be composed of multiple animals.  Yet conceptually, there is an incompleteness because such a being has the potential to be greater, in some aspect, than it already is.  Moreover, a material thing, such as a chimera which theoretically has a body, is composed of many parts and, insofar that the parts are arranged one way and not some other, you would automatically think of this being as being contingent.  (c) The idea of God does not posit any limitations, as there is no spatial or temporal extension nor is there an incompleteness in spiritual qualities such as moral perfection or knowledge.   
  Are you saying that greatness is a no subjective quality?  Exactly how is greatness measured?  Why does it matter if a being is material or immaterial.  What definition of material and immaterial are you even using?  Why can't you assign any desired property to an ontologically infinite being?  What do you believe is necessary for a property to be assigned to any ontologically infinite being?  How do you know any of this?  Your answer leaves me with nothing but more questions.         
Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
  (2) Numbers do not exist in reality, yet they are neither self-contradictory nor are they dictated by the conditions of the world.  Therefore, it may be that God does not exist in reality even though the concept is not self-contradictory and includes self-existence in the definition. ANSWER:  Numbers, like all other abstract entities, are not thought for the sake of reference.  They are thought for the sake of practicality.  God, in order to possess any currency for the theist, must be thought to refer to a real thing.  
  What does it matter weather something is thought to really exist in reality or to only exist in reference to something?  This sounds like special pleading.    
Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
    (3) For all we know, the concept of God may be self-contradictory. ANSWER: The burden of proof is on the atheist to demonstrate how this could be the case.  Such an objection is tantamount to pleading ignorance in other areas as well, given the imperfection of human knowledge.  You may as well say that for all we know, the concept of gravity may be self-contradictory or that, for all we know, our understanding of cosmology is self-contradictory.  Our nature is incomplete and we must deal with it.  
  I depends on what properties you attach to your ontologically infinite being.  If you don't define your god it is impossible to say if it is self contradictory or not.  That is like me saying the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that Bragatica is self contradictory or not an me not even telling you what Bragatica is.    
Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
    (4) This argument does not prove the God of the Bible. ANSWER: That's not the point of the argument.  The point of the argument is to refute atheism, that is, to show that atheism itself is intellectually bankrupt insofar that its worldview is based on a self-contradictory premise.  
  Your argument makes no sense to me.  Why can't people just be wrong?  How can things that don't exist have properties?  What makes all of your stipulations for the properties of infinite being not just special pleading?  Please try to answer some of these questions for me.    

 


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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:(1)

Welcome to the forums! I like philosophy too....

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
(1) God's existence cannot be denied without self-contradiction.

If I was a theist, I'd be reluctant to use this argument, because the argument stands or falls on one's definition of "god". It is the theist's burden to define "god" in a meaningful way more so than a philosophical conjecture such as "ontologically infinite being, which, by logical necessity, would entail that his being cannot be contingent upon anything". The concept of an "infinite being" does not really communicate much about a deity of any kind, much less anything worthy of admiration or praise. Some components of string theory could possibly fit this definition and scientists certainly aren't calling such things "god". If one wants to call such things "god", then I suppose that makes them a theist by definition, but the one not calling such things "god" are atheists by definition. This thereby no more proves theism is true than disproves atheism. One very well could do the same for a rock too, calling it "god". And because the rock exists, a god exists and theism is true, but atheism is true at the same time and either conclusion results in question begging. The contradictions I think will be shown with more cogent definitions of "god". If this is the case, atheists can say that whatever god you are trying to define doesn't exist per your own argument.

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
God, as an ontologically infinite being, would also be the all-encompassing source of being and therefore capable of action, and such a being is not in the same category as a number or linguistic operator.

There is nothing about an "all-encompassing source of being" that necessarily implies agency of any kind. Event causation is as acceptable, and perhaps the preferred type of action, under the given conception of "god" put forth here.

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

For all we know, the concept of God may be self-contradictory.

ANSWER: The burden of proof is on the atheist to demonstrate how this could be the case.  Such an objection is tantamount to pleading ignorance in other areas as well, given the imperfection of human knowledge.  You may as well say that for all we know, the concept of gravity may be self-contradictory or that, for all we know, our understanding of cosmology is self-contradictory.  Our nature is incomplete and we must deal with it.

The concept of god put forth in this argument is a weak concept of a god, and as mentioned there is no distinction between it and some natural phenomenon. It is therefore the theist's burden to illuminate this concept before the atheists can "demonstrate how this could be the case."

I think myself and others critiquing the argument are not satisfied with the definition of "god" put forth here.

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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:SHORT

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

SHORT VERSION

(1) God's existence cannot be denied without self-contradiction.

(2) Therefore, God exists.

Gödel is literally spinning in his grave right now.

 

R.I.P.

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That's some very handsome

That's some very handsome pseudo-intellectual double-speak you've got there. But this comes down to one very simple problem, analogized thus:

1) A "unicorn" is defined as a one-horned horse that exists, therefore:

2) Unicorns exist.


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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:What I

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
What I meant was that unlike numbers or logical principles, the idea of God is thought to refer to a real thing which is sentient, active, and stands in causal relations.  If you are attempting to account for the non-existence of God by saying that "God" is an abstract idea such as a number, then you've yet to justify this, as it is pretty clear that the "God" concept is nothing like the concept of a number.

The "God" concept is different from the concept of a number. That is very true. I think I am not explaining myself very well.

Quote:

Remember, non-existence in the sense that I've been using it means that there is a concept which has no point of reference. 

"Chimera" has no point of reference because nature has yet to give us sufficient conditions for such an animal to evolve.

Here we go. This is exactly what I'm talking about. "Chimera" may have no point of reference because there is no such thing as, say, a hippogriff. It isn't that nature hasn't given sufficient conditions for such an animal to evolve -- it's that we've never seen one, though we've imagined it. And there's no way you or I can positively say that hippogriffs do not exist. It could be entirely possible that somewhere in this vasty universe, there is an animal that is indistinguishable from what we call a hippogriff. In that case, chimera do exist; we just can't prove it.

If we take the actual definition of chimera, that is, an animal that is made of distinct parts of other animals, then our hypothetical hippogriff would not be a true chimera, but merely something that resembles a true chimera. In that case, the chimera we imagine are contradictory, as we know they are genetically impossible. I imagine we might be able to build them from scratch one day, but even then, would they be true chimera? In any case, our present understanding of genetics precludes true chimera as imagined by the Greeks and Romans and many cultures before and since.

This is exactly the same case for God. God is a concept for which the only known referent is our imagination. As with the hippogriff, lacking contrary evidence, our default position must be that God does not exist. As the claims for the existence of God is even more extraordinary than the claims for the existence of a hippogriff, the evidence must be proportionally more extraordinary.

The ontological argument, in all its permutations, attempts to sidestep this requirement by conflating the concept of God with the actual existence of God. Invariably, this involves formulating conception such that it requires existence. No matter how much you apologize, this is begging the question. You have built your conclusion (the existence of God) into your assumptions (the idea of God is infinite, and an infinite thing must exist).

In actuality, there is no necessity for an infinite thing of any nature. In fact, we have yet to discover a truly infinite thing outside our imagination. Even more damning for the infinite, the universe appears to be bounded at the planck scale at the smallest end, and by the universe (which is not infinite) at the upper end. Time is bounded at the beginning by the origin of the universe. We don't know enough yet to know how it is bounded at the other end -- but the nature of entropy bounds time even if the universe continues to expand until it is completely played out. So while the time and extent of the universe is vast, it is not infinite. It's possible to calculate both the total number of particles in the universe (showing the physical aspect of the universe is not infinite) and the total information processing power of the universe (that is, the number of potential quantum state changes the universe can make in its lifetime).

So, for all the infinite Gods that must exist infinitely, not one is required to exist; quite to the contrary, as we have not seen a capacity for infinity in our universe, it seems an infinite thing cannot exist.

Quote:
The existential import of concepts is evaluated in terms of the attributes that you assign to the purported referents.  If I say that my concept of God refers to something outside of my mind, then you cannot simply argue, "No.  It's an abstract idea."  You would ask me what properties I assign to this being and then evaluate its existence in terms of those properties.

You've assigned the property of "infinite" (which doesn't seem to be a real property -- the concept of "infinite" is in the same class as "number," which you said is an abstract idea.)

As you've not assigned any concrete, observable properties, I can argue it's a concept without an objective referent. This puts the burden of proof on you; until you can demonstrate the actuality of an objective referent, you are left with no proof of existence. We are in exactly the same position we were in before the Ontological Argument.

Quote:

In the same way, if I decide that I no longer want to think of a number as an abstract object, then I am allowed to do that.  You would simply evaluate the truth of my existential claim by determining what properties I assign to this number. 

In this case, I am saying that God is an infinite being, unlimited in perfection.  Under your worldview, what is precluding the existence of such a being?  It can't be the fact that such a thing has not been caused in nature, since such a being would not be so ontologically limited as to require a cause, and you could not say that the idea is logically contradictory, since it does not contain two or more mutually exclusive ideas.  So, what are you left with?

There are only two possibilities here.  God either exists or he does not exist.  If you cannot logically account for one, then the other is validated by default.  You have not shown me that his non-existence can be accounted for.

You are allowed to think of "number" as anything you wish. You can start calling birds "5" for all I care. That makes neither your conception of "5" correct, nor the existence of the common conception of "5" an objectively real entity. For this argument to translate into the existence of God, however, you'd have to apply that concept to an observable thing. As long as your concept of God aligns with the common understanding of the concept (a being of infinite power and knowledge), your conception of God has no known objective referent, despite all your earnest belief in its objective existence.

You cannot logically account for God's existence. (Saying he is "infinite" does not account for his existence at all. First, it's not a real attribute; second, his property of "infinity" is not the same as having infinite probability of existing.) So that must mean his non-existence is the default.

See how silly this argument is? As neither truth-claim can be proven, either side can assume they are correct. The Ontological Argument attempts to swing the argument in the theists favor, but can only do so by begging the question, by defining the property of "infinity" (whatever that means) as the "probability of existence." Until you address that point, you are evading the actual discussion.

it is the null hypothesis to assume God does not exist, until such time as evidence is presented. It's really quite simple. This is no different than the assumption of the existence of chimera. It is special pleading to claim otherwise.

In any case, as I have demonstrated that the universe itself is finite and cannot contain an infinity of anything, the property of "infinite" contradicts the nature of reality. Therefore, your definition of God is self-contradictory.

 

To sum up, you will have to address these points in defense of your ontological argument:

1. What exactly is the property of "infinite?"

1a. As the concept of "infinite" is in the same conceptual class as all numbers, and you have admitted that numbers do not exist as actual things, how does this property relate to . . . well, anything?

2. How does the possession of this property relate to the probability of existence?

3. If the possession of the property of "infinite" translates into an infinite probability of existence, of what cardinality is this infinity? For instance, the set of real numbers between 0 and 1 is infinite, but it is not nearly as infinite as the set of real numbers from 1 to infinity. If the infinite probability of existence of something possessing the property of "infinite" has a lower cardinality than the infinite probability of its non-existence, then it still probably doesn't exist.

4. How can something with the property of "infinite" exist within a universe that is clearly finite, with no known infinite property?

 

These 4 questions address the 4 weaknesses of the Ontological Argument, as I see them. Each addresses a different aspect of the smuggled concept of necessary existence that makes the Ontological Argument a begged question. The first two (1+1a, 2) address the smuggled concept itself. The third addresses the false dichotomy of the conclusions of the begged question, and the fourth addresses the realism of the conclusion. If you can answer these four questions without evasion, sophistry, special pleading, or further question-begging, you might have an actual argument.

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nigelTheBold wrote:The

nigelTheBold wrote:

The ontological argument, in all its permutations, attempts to sidestep this requirement by conflating the concept of God with the actual existence of God. Invariably, this involves formulating conception such that it requires existence. No matter how much you apologize, this is begging the question. You have built your conclusion (the existence of God) into your assumptions (the idea of God is infinite, and an infinite thing must exist).

The only permutation that I have seen that does not do this is Godel's formulation, but I don't think that was Godel's intent. His proof basically shows the necessity for an actual infinite. Godel, being of theist, called it "god" of the Spinozan variety, more or less. Some have taken this a step further to suggest that the only sort of entity that can possibly fit Godel's description is a god-like conception, but this does not inherently produce theism, in part because without any additional information, this is an poorly defined conception of a god, and fails I think for the same reason MOL's argument fails.

nigelTheBold wrote:

If the possession of the property of "infinite" translates into an infinite probability of existence, of what cardinality is this infinity? For instance, the set of real numbers between 0 and 1 is infinite, but it is not nearly as infinite as the set of real numbers from 1 to infinity. If the infinite probability of existence of something possessing the property of "infinite" has a lower cardinality than the infinite probability of its non-existence, then it still probably doesn't exist.

The cardinality of a set of numbers between 0 and 1 and 1 to infinity is the same.... (aleph-1, but this is debatable...)

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EXC wrote:Meaning_Of_Life

EXC wrote:

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

SHORT VERSION

(1) God's existence cannot be denied without self-contradiction.

(2) Therefore, God exists.

Gödel is literally spinning in his grave right now.

 

R.I.P.

To be fair, Gödel's Modal Ontological Argument may be far more sophisticated, but it still suffers from begging the question. He was just better at camouflaging it. It still reduces down to Meaning_Of_Life's transparent version.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:The only

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
The only permutation that I have seen that does not do this is Godel's formulation, but I don't think that was Godel's intent. His proof basically shows the necessity for an actual infinite. Godel, being of theist, called it "god" of the Spinozan variety, more or less. Some have taken this a step further to suggest that the only sort of entity that can possibly fit Godel's description is a god-like conception, but this does not inherently produce theism, in part because without any additional information, this is an poorly defined conception of a god, and fails I think for the same reason MOL's argument fails.

Great. You post this just before I post my last one.

I'll have to revisit Gödel's Ontological Argument. I haven't done so since university, which was a loooong time ago. I seem to recall that even there, Gödel's proof relied on, uhm, creative axioms. It especially relied on the definition of a "positive attribute," further relying on subjective interpretation of what a "positive attribute" really was. In this way, he smuggles in the conception of God via our ability to select what we consider positive.

But that's my recollection. I'll have to go back and re-read his actual argument.

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nigelTheBold wrote:Great.

nigelTheBold wrote:

Great. You post this just before I post my last one.

I'll have to revisit Gödel's Ontological Argument. I haven't done so since university, which was a loooong time ago. I seem to recall that even there, Gödel's proof relied on, uhm, creative axioms. It especially relied on the definition of a "positive attribute," further relying on subjective interpretation of what a "positive attribute" really was. In this way, he smuggles in the conception of God via our ability to select what we consider positive.

But that's my recollection. I'll have to go back and re-read his actual argument.

Basically, yeah...it's "smuggled" in...It's open for interpretation at that point as to what that really means. The proof itself though I think is valid.

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Keep in mind that the upshot

Keep in mind that the upshot of Godel's two incompleteless theorems is that truth transcends proof.  That is, within any given system, there are axioms that must necessarily be true but which necessarily cannot be proven.

IC XC

David


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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
Basically, yeah...it's "smuggled" in...It's open for interpretation at that point as to what that really means. The proof itself though I think is valid.

Hm. The one thing I've discovered is that my modal logic still sucks. I'm having to go through this thing line by line.

It still seems the problem is with positive properties. Also, there's the problem with axiom 1, that positive properties only entail positive, and not negative, properties. By this argument, necessary existence is a positive property. In all possible worlds, the universe necessarily exists. However, the existence of the universe entails its ultimate demise (by heat death, great crunch, whatever). This is obviously a negative property -- so a positive property (necessary existence) can result in negative property (death).

I think you are right -- I don't think Gödel ever thought of this as anything but a modal logic plaything. There are just far too many issues with the axioms themselves.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:The

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

The cardinality of a set of numbers between 0 and 1 and 1 to infinity is the same.... (aleph-1, but this is debatable...)

Oh, and I forgot to tell you -- fuck you.

Damn. You are completely right, and I completely fucked that up. My argument holds, but my example fucking sucked.

I'll try not to wave my idiocy around like a flasher at a schoolyard again today. And thanks for the correction.

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nigelTheBold wrote:Here we

nigelTheBold wrote:

Here we go. This is exactly what I'm talking about. "Chimera" may have no point of reference because there is no such thing as, say, a hippogriff. It isn't that nature hasn't given sufficient conditions for such an animal to evolve -- it's that we've never seen one, though we've imagined it. And there's no way you or I can positively say that hippogriffs do not exist. It could be entirely possible that somewhere in this vasty universe, there is an animal that is indistinguishable from what we call a hippogriff. In that case, chimera do exist; we just can't prove it.

If we take the actual definition of chimera, that is, an animal that is made of distinct parts of other animals, then our hypothetical hippogriff would not be a true chimera, but merely something that resembles a true chimera. In that case, the chimera we imagine are contradictory, as we know they are genetically impossible. I imagine we might be able to build them from scratch one day, but even then, would they be true chimera? In any case, our present understanding of genetics precludes true chimera as imagined by the Greeks and Romans and many cultures before and since.

I'm just using "chimera" as an example.  I'm not trying to argue whether or not it does not exist.  I'm trying to show the different ways in which non-existence is accounted for.  You can reformulate my statement in the following way: If a chimera does not exist, it does not exist because nature has not manifested the sufficient conditions which would allow such a being to exist. 

I just need to point out that genetic impossibility is not the same thing as logical impossibility.  Genetic possibility deals with limitations in the way that nature operates, which itself would fall under the category that I mentioned re: causes.

Quote:
This is exactly the same case for God. God is a concept for which the only known referent is our imagination. As with the hippogriff, lacking contrary evidence, our default position must be that God does not exist. As the claims for the existence of God is even more extraordinary than the claims for the existence of a hippogriff, the evidence must be proportionally more extraordinary.

It is not the same for God because the concept of God, if understood as I understand it, does not allow for the preclusion of existence for the same reasons that one may preclude the existence of a chimera.  God cannot be non-existent because the nature does not provide the conditions for his existence since God, by his very nature, would not rely on such conditions for his being.  Otherwise, he would not be all-powerful.

The rest of what you say can be reduced to mere assertion.  How do you know that the only known referent of God is our imagination?  How do you know that there is no evidence for God?  The whole point of this thread is to discuss whether or not my evidence is sufficient and therefore, you cannot disprove my claim by citing that there is no evidence for God when my argument is the evidence. 

Quote:
The ontological argument, in all its permutations, attempts to sidestep this requirement by conflating the concept of God with the actual existence of God. Invariably, this involves formulating conception such that it requires existence. No matter how much you apologize, this is begging the question. You have built your conclusion (the existence of God) into your assumptions (the idea of God is infinite, and an infinite thing must exist).

Of course I did.  God has to exist.  That is why he is a necessary being.  As such, his nature will not allow for his non-existence.  I really do not see a problem with this.  In fact, it would be problematic for my position if I said that God's nature would allow him not to exist, as then presuppositional apologetics would be completely destroyed.  You could argue God out of existence by citing external factors.  I will not allow that, so yes, I am defining God's nature in a particular way.  If all you can do is assert that this violates some imaginary rule that you have, then you have nothing going for you.

I have to get back to work, so I'll probably address the rest of your post tommorow. 

 

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MoL,Now you're back to "God

MoL,

Now you're back to "God must exist because my argument falls flat if he doesn't. so I'll assume into existence"

Welcome home!

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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:The

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
The rest of what you say can be reduced to mere assertion.

And what you are doing does not? Your entire argument is based on the assertion that you imagine God to exist, and so he does.

Imagining God to exist is not the same as actual existence, no matter how hard you try to imagine his existence. That's my point. God is just as contingent as a chimera.

Quote:

 How do you know that the only known referent of God is our imagination?  How do you know that there is no evidence for God?  The whole point of this thread is to discuss whether or not my evidence is sufficient and therefore, you cannot disprove my claim by citing that there is no evidence for God when my argument is the evidence.

Because there has never been any evidence outside the imagination? That seems pretty damning.

Yes, God may exist in some form, in the exact same way a chimera may exist. So far, with all the thousands of years of searching for God, nobody has presented any objective evidence whatsoever for its existence. Your argument does not constitute evidence, as evidence is by definition empirical. It doesn't even constitute a rational argument, as I've demonstrated (and you have yet to refute) that it begs the question.

Quote:

Quote:
You have built your conclusion (the existence of God) into your assumptions (the idea of God is infinite, and an infinite thing must exist).

Of course I did.  God has to exist.  That is why he is a necessary being.  As such, his nature will not allow for his non-existence.  I really do not see a problem with this.

Really? You don't see how you are attempting to simply define God into existence? You don't see how this is irrational? You do realize that begging the question is a logical fallacy, right?

What you are presenting is not evidence, nor an argument, nor even a logically-valid construct. What you are presenting is a bald-faced assertion that a supernatural omni-being exists.

Why do you believe God has to exist? Do you have a logical reason for this, or is it merely desire?

Quote:

In fact, it would be problematic for my position if I said that God's nature would allow him not to exist, as then presuppositional apologetics would be completely destroyed.

*sound of clearing throat* *picture of pointed fingers* *picture of signs saying "Right here"*

Quote:
You could argue God out of existence by citing external factors.  I will not allow that, so yes, I am defining God's nature in a particular way.  If all you can do is assert that this violates some imaginary rule that you have, then you have nothing going for you.

What imaginary rule? That begging the question is a logical fallacy? That's just very basic logic. That the universe is finite? Dude, that's an observation about our universe, not an imaginary rule.

If all you can do is assert that God must exist because you said he must exist, you have far less going for you than I do, with my observation of the universe.

General rule of thumb: reality trumps imagination.

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nigelTheBold wrote:In

nigelTheBold wrote:

In actuality, there is no necessity for an infinite thing of any nature. In fact, we have yet to discover a truly infinite thing outside our imagination. Even more damning for the infinite, the universe appears to be bounded at the planck scale at the smallest end, and by the universe (which is not infinite) at the upper end. Time is bounded at the beginning by the origin of the universe. We don't know enough yet to know how it is bounded at the other end -- but the nature of entropy bounds time even if the universe continues to expand until it is completely played out. So while the time and extent of the universe is vast, it is not infinite. It's possible to calculate both the total number of particles in the universe (showing the physical aspect of the universe is not infinite) and the total information processing power of the universe (that is, the number of potential quantum state changes the universe can make in its lifetime).

I know that the universe is not infinite.  This fact is irrelevant because God is not a product of the universe and therefore his infinitude would not depend on that of the universe. 

Quote:
So, for all the infinite Gods that must exist infinitely, not one is required to exist; quite to the contrary, as we have not seen a capacity for infinity in our universe, it seems an infinite thing cannot exist.

This is just an assertion.  If you cannot deny the existence of God without self-contradiction, then it is required that God exists.  You have not shown me that you can.

Of course you are not going to find an infinity that exists in our universe because our entire universe is not infinite.  The universe is nothing more than the sum total of space, time, matter, and energy.  Since space, time, matter, and energy all came into existence at the Big Bang, the universe will not have any infinites existing within the parameters under which we observe it.

This does not mean that an infinite being cannot exist.  It just means that an infinite being must transcend space and time.

Quote:
You've assigned the property of "infinite" (which doesn't seem to be a real property -- the concept of "infinite" is in the same class as "number," which you said is an abstract idea.)

I'm not talking about numerical infinites.  "Infinite" means "without limit" and, in this sense, it is a description of this being's perfection. 

It's not an abstract idea.  It is a description of what this being is and entails existence outside of a mind. 

Numbers are not a description of any particular thing that is out there.  If I have a collection of rocks in my front yard and I count them, the first rock that I've counted does not have the number "1" attached to it simply because I decided to count that rock first.  On the other hand, my conception of God speaks about the nature of this entity.

Quote:
As you've not assigned any concrete, observable properties, I can argue it's a concept without an objective referent. This puts the burden of proof on you; until you can demonstrate the actuality of an objective referent, you are left with no proof of existence. We are in exactly the same position we were in before the Ontological Argument.

I take it that by "observable", you refer to the ability to perceive something with your five senses.  This approach disqualifies God from the outset, since we can only perceive material things with our senses.  An infinite being would be immaterial and therefore knowledge of his existence would be arrived at logically rather than empirically.  Since you cannot account for the non-existence of this being without contradicting yourself, his existence is therefore proven. 

Quote:
You are allowed to think of "number" as anything you wish. You can start calling birds "5" for all I care. That makes neither your conception of "5" correct, nor the existence of the common conception of "5" an objectively real entity. For this argument to translate into the existence of God, however, you'd have to apply that concept to an observable thing. As long as your concept of God aligns with the common understanding of the concept (a being of infinite power and knowledge), your conception of God has no known objective referent, despite all your earnest belief in its objective existence.[

You cannot logically account for God's existence. (Saying he is "infinite" does not account for his existence at all. First, it's not a real attribute; second, his property of "infinity" is not the same as having infinite probability of existing.) So that must mean his non-existence is the default.

See how silly this argument is? As neither truth-claim can be proven, either side can assume they are correct. The Ontological Argument attempts to swing the argument in the theists favor, but can only do so by begging the question, by defining the property of "infinity" (whatever that means) as the "probability of existence." Until you address that point, you are evading the actual discussion.

On your end, all I can see is a bunch of assertions.  How do you know there is no known referent?  I'm telling you that there is and I'm giving you a formalized argument to show this.  You cannot just hand wave.  You need to present an actual rebuttal.  

I can account for God's existence. 

God's existence is accounted for in his ontological fullness, from which it follows that he is the ultimate ground of all existence.  As the ground of being, his existence cannot be qualified in any way.  The moment you say, "God exists, but only if...", you have misunderstood the nature of God.  You've set preconditions to God's existence and misrepresented the notion altogether. 

Quote:
it is the null hypothesis to assume God does not exist, until such time as evidence is presented. It's really quite simple. This is no different than the assumption of the existence of chimera. It is special pleading to claim otherwise.

In any case, as I have demonstrated that the universe itself is finite and cannot contain an infinity of anything, the property of "infinite" contradicts the nature of reality. Therefore, your definition of God is self-contradictory.

I'm presenting evidence right now.  It is not special pleading because we are not defining a chimera as an infinite being.  If we choose to do that, then a chimera must exist.  I'm fine with that, but why call it a "chimera" instead of "God"?

God is not a product of the universe.  Therefore, bringing up the universe in this context adds nothing to your rebuttal.

 

Quote:
To sum up, you will have to address these points in defense of your ontological argument:

1. What exactly is the property of "infinite?"

It's not a property.  It is what God is.  It means that God is unlimited.

Quote:
1a. As the concept of "infinite" is in the same conceptual class as all numbers, and you have admitted that numbers do not exist as actual things, how does this property relate to . . . well, anything?

I'm not using "infinite" in that sense.  This isn't "infinite" as used in mathematics.

Quote:
2. How does the possession of this property relate to the probability of existence?

It's not a property.  But being infinite relates to existence because it describes the ultimate source of existence itself.

Quote:
3. If the possession of the property of "infinite" translates into an infinite probability of existence, of what cardinality is this infinity? For instance, the set of real numbers between 0 and 1 is infinite, but it is not nearly as infinite as the set of real numbers from 1 to infinity. If the infinite probability of existence of something possessing the property of "infinite" has a lower cardinality than the infinite probability of its non-existence, then it still probably doesn't exist.

I'm not sure what you mean by "infinite probability of existence"?  Probabilities only exist where there is uncertainty.  An infinite probability would be an absolute certainty, would it not?

I'm not sure what you mean by "cardinality".  I'm not talking about a numerical infinitude.

Quote:
4. How can something with the property of "infinite" exist within a universe that is clearly finite, with no known infinite property?

He is not within the universe, unless you mean that he is omnipresent, which means that he is in the universe but also outside of it.

 

Quote:
These 4 questions address the 4 weaknesses of the Ontological Argument, as I see them. Each addresses a different aspect of the smuggled concept of necessary existence that makes the Ontological Argument a begged question. The first two (1+1a, 2) address the smuggled concept itself. The third addresses the false dichotomy of the conclusions of the begged question, and the fourth addresses the realism of the conclusion. If you can answer these four questions without evasion, sophistry, special pleading, or further question-begging, you might have an actual argument.

Your assertions are not convincing.  My challenge to you was to deny the existence of God without self-contradiction.  So far, you've yet to step up to the plate.

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nigelTheBold wrote:

And what you are doing does not? Your entire argument is based on the assertion that you imagine God to exist, and so he does.

Imagining God to exist is not the same as actual existence, no matter how hard you try to imagine his existence. That's my point. God is just as contingent as a chimera.

No, my argument is based on the fact that his non-existence cannot be logically accuonted for in any way.  I'm not imagining God.  I'm just telling you what "God" means, much like "zebra" means "horse with white and black stripes." 

God is not contingent.  You are qualifying his existence by saying that in order for God to exist, certain preconditions must be met.  How can an eternal being be dependent upon preconditions?

Quote:
Because there has never been any evidence outside the imagination? That seems pretty damning.

Yes, God may exist in some form, in the exact same way a chimera may exist. So far, with all the thousands of years of searching for God, nobody has presented any objective evidence whatsoever for its existence. Your argument does not constitute evidence, as evidence is by definition empirical. It doesn't even constitute a rational argument, as I've demonstrated (and you have yet to refute) that it begs the question.

There you go again, qualifying God's exist.  By saying that he may exist, you are stating that it is possible that he does not exist.  Please tell me how God can not exist.  I've given you three criterion and you've yet to demonstrate that the non-existence of God falls under any of the three.

Evidence does not have to be empirical.  There's evidence known as "a priori evidence", which is what this is. 

What question does it beg?  God is defined as an infinite being, eternal, indivisible, pure actualization, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, etc.  Are you denying that this is the definition of God?  If so, please tell me what you think "God" means". 

Furthermore, you are the one begging the question.  You claimed without any backing that nobody has ever presented objective evidence of God.  A fair reformulation of your argument would be, "Nobody has ever presented any evidence of God that accord with my standards" or perhaps "Nobody has ever presented any evidence of God that I could understand".

Quote:
Really? You don't see how you are attempting to simply define God into existence? You don't see how this is irrational? You do realize that begging the question is a logical fallacy, right?

It's not irrational at all.  It does not beg the question.  "God" is defined in a particular way.

Seriously, what's the problem?

Quote:
What you are presenting is not evidence, nor an argument, nor even a logically-valid construct. What you are presenting is a bald-faced assertion that a supernatural omni-being exists.

Why do you believe God has to exist? Do you have a logical reason for this, or is it merely desire?

I've already explained.

Quote:
*sound of clearing throat* *picture of pointed fingers* *picture of signs saying "Right here"*

Seriously, what's the problem?

Why should I say that God is a contingent being whose existence depends on a variety of factors in space and time, when that is not what God is?

It's like saying, "An infinite being is not an infinite being."

Quote:
What imaginary rule? That begging the question is a logical fallacy? That's just very basic logic. That the universe is finite? Dude, that's an observation about our universe, not an imaginary rule.

Your rule that you can't define something in such a way that existence necessarily follows.

Quote:
If all you can do is assert that God must exist because you said he must exist, you have far less going for you than I do, with my observation of the universe.

General rule of thumb: reality trumps imagination.

Logic trumps your understanding of reality.

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"It's not irrational at

"It's not irrational at all.  It does not beg the question.  "God" is defined in a particular way."

MoL, that particular way of definition God just happens to be the conclusion to the argument you're making.

If you want to prove God exists ontologically - simply saying he does is a poor way of doing it.

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— George Carlin


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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:It's

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:
It's not irrational at all.  It does not beg the question.  "God" is defined in a particular way.

Seriously, what's the problem?

The problem is that you don't understand a logical fallacy.

"Begging the question" is a logical fallacy wherein the conclusion you are attempting to prove logically is contained within the axioms of the proof. You are even admitting this is the case. Yet you deny you are committing a fallacy.

This is not the same as defining a zebra as a black-and-white striped relation to the horse, for which we have handy observable referents. Far from it -- this is defining something that may or may not objectively exist, and then further defining it as existing. Adding "and it exists" to the definition does not change the fact of its existence. At no point in your argument have you established the logical necessity of God -- you have merely defined God as being necessary.

That's not how reality works. Not in the slightest.

You have admitted God exists only because you have defined him as existing. It does beg the question. It's the fucking definition of begging the question, as God's existence is what you are trying to prove.

That's like me saying, "I am a married bachelor," and you saying, "But that's a logical fallacy -- those are contradictory terms," and me saying, "No, it's not a logical fallacy at all," and you saying, "But yes it is," and me saying, "I'm a bachelor, and my wife assures me I am," and you saying, "It doesn't work that way," and so on.

I will not waste both our time discussing this further.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold wrote:Oh, and I

nigelTheBold wrote:

Oh, and I forgot to tell you -- fuck you.

I'll take that as a compliment. Smiling


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ubuntuAnyone wrote:If I was

ubuntuAnyone wrote:
If I was a theist, I'd be reluctant to use this argument, because the argument stands or falls on one's definition of "god". It is the theist's burden to define "god" in a meaningful way more so than a philosophical conjecture such as "ontologically infinite being, which, by logical necessity, would entail that his being cannot be contingent upon anything". The concept of an "infinite being" does not really communicate much about a deity of any kind, much less anything worthy of admiration or praise. Some components of string theory could possibly fit this definition and scientists certainly aren't calling such things "god". If one wants to call such things "god", then I suppose that makes them a theist by definition, but the one not calling such things "god" are atheists by definition. This thereby no more proves theism is true than disproves atheism. One very well could do the same for a rock too, calling it "god". And because the rock exists, a god exists and theism is true, but atheism is true at the same time and either conclusion results in question begging. The contradictions I think will be shown with more cogent definitions of "god". If this is the case, atheists can say that whatever god you are trying to define doesn't exist per your own argument.

A good book for you to check out is "Discourses Upon the Existence and Attributes of God" by William Symington and Stephen Charnock.  It is a real comprehensive account of the nature of God and shows that our understanding of God is anything but philosophical conjecture.  The answers I give here are short, but there is a lot to be said.  You should be able to preview some of it on Google Books.

The Catholic Encylopedia (newadvent.org) is also a great source of information.  Here is a great quote on ontological infinitude:

The infinite, as the word indicates, is that which has no end, no limit, no boundary, and therefore cannot be measured by a finite standard, however often applied; it is that which cannot be attained by successive addition, not exhausted by successive subtraction of finite quantities. Though in itself a negative term, infinity has a very positive meaning. Since it denies all bounds — which are themselves negations — it is a double negation, hence an affirmation, and expresses positively the highest unsurpassable reality. Like the concepts of quantity, limit, boundary, the term infinity applies primarily to space and time, but not exclusively, as Schopenhauer maintains. In a derived meaning it may be applied to every kind of perfection: wisdom, beauty, power, the fullness of being itself.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08004a.htm

I don't know anything about string theory, so I cannot comment.

Quote:
There is nothing about an "all-encompassing source of being" that necessarily implies agency of any kind. Event causation is as acceptable, and perhaps the preferred type of action, under the given conception of "god" put forth here.

Being itself is not static, it's dynamic.  This is intrinsic in the word "being", which denotes activity (hence, the "ing" at the of it).  Being itself would not be separable from its source as if being is something that was hand crafted.  Instead, being would exist in its source and, as such, would necessitate that this source acts.  "Systematic Theology" by Paul Tillich is a good read if you want to go into this more.

Though occupying the realm of mental being, abstract objects are not dynamic.  Therefore, the comparison between the God concept and numbers is invalid.

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drichards85 wrote:Keep in

drichards85 wrote:

Keep in mind that the upshot of Godel's two incompleteless theorems is that truth transcends proof.  That is, within any given system, there are axioms that must necessarily be true but which necessarily cannot be proven.

IC XC

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Yeah...He supposed that any set of axioms could be proved with another set of axioms, basically creating a vicious cycle.

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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:The

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

The Catholic Encylopedia (newadvent.org) is also a great source of information.  Here is a great quote on ontological infinitude:

The infinite...is...

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08004a.htm

Sure, there are lots of books etc. that flesh this out. I've read Our Idea of God my Thomas Morris that talks about the various philosophical issues surrounding perfect being theology.

But my contention is not with a definition of "infinite" but rather "god". I supposing that without additional information, this is a poorly defined conception of "god". Any number of things fit the provided descriptors, so its an argument for a non-contradictory infinite entity, but not necessarily a "god", so it does not necessarily produce theism.

I was likening this ambiguity to a rock on a shelf. Person A may call that rock on a shelf "god" and Person B may say it's a rock. Person A therefore is a theist and Person B is an atheist with respect to the rock. But the each person's conclusion is the result of pure question begging because each person define the object in question differently.

I was asking for a more well defined definition of "god" for the sake of argument...until this is satisfied, I think the objection stands.

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

Being itself is not static, it's dynamic.  This is intrinsic in the word "being", which denotes activity (hence, the "ing" at the of it).  Being itself would not be separable from its source as if being is something that was hand crafted.  Instead, being would exist in its source and, as such, would necessitate that this source acts.  "Systematic Theology" by Paul Tillich is a good read if you want to go into this more.

Though occupying the realm of mental being, abstract objects are not dynamic.  Therefore, the comparison between the God concept and numbers is invalid.

I think your confusing my objection with Nigel's objection.

The contention was similar to the first in that nothing about this produces theism. Maye I miss understood you, but when I read, "source of being" being capable of "action" I'm thinking about agency (that is agent causation) in relation to cosmology (that is "action" ). Are you familiar with agent causation and event causation? Agency causation, simply put, is when some entity with a will wills action then performs the act. Event causation is somewhat more deterministic and does not necessarily presuppose a will for a given act. My contention was that the provided definition does not imply an entity with a will (an agent). The "all-encompassing source of being" that performs action in its simplest form (thus the preferred form) has no will....

If you must know, I've read Ericksons' and Grudem's systematic theologies, but I've never read Tillich's though.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:Sure,

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Sure, there are lots of books etc. that flesh this out. I've read Our Idea of God my Thomas Morris that talks about the various philosophical issues surrounding perfect being theology.

But my contention is not with a definition of "infinite" but rather "god". I supposing that without additional information, this is a poorly defined conception of "god". Any number of things fit the provided descriptors, so it fails to produce theism. I was asking for a more well defined definition of "god" for the sake of argument...until this is satisfied, I think the objection stands

The contention was similar to the first in that nothing about this produces theism. Maye I miss understood you, but when I read, "source of being" being capable of "action" I'm thinking about agency (that is agent causation) in relation to cosmology (that is "action" ). Are you familiar with agent causation and event causation? Agency causation, simply put that an some entity with a will wills action then performs the act. Event causation is somewhat more deterministic and does not necessarily presuppose a will for a given act. My contention was that the provided definition does not imply an entity with a will (an agent). The "all-encompassing source of being" that performs action in its simplest form (thus the preferred form) has no will....

Well, I defined "God" as "infinite", so I think my citations were relevant.  But nevertheless, we have to stick with the argument as I've presented it and based on that, I understand what you are saying now.  It would appear, then, that you grant the deductive validity of the argument, but believe it is a trivial argument for the theist because it does not prove a sentient being.

I'm actually going to give you the victory on this, though, I think that "ontological infinity" can be fleshed out more to the point where it does produce theism (the book I've cited actually does a great job of this).  For now, though, I will agree, if the argument is taken in isolation from the sources I've cited, that I myself have not done a good job in showing how it does.

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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:I'm

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

I'm actually going to give you the victory on this, though, I think that "ontological infinity" can be fleshed out more to the point where it does produce theism (the book I've cited actually does a great job of this).  For now, though, I will agree, if the argument is taken in isolation from the sources I've cited, that I myself have not done a good job in showing how it does.

Maybe you could revise the argument some and repost it with these revisions.

I think where atheists will attack though will be on contradictions between the properties assigned to a god, so the challenge is to come up with a noncontradictory definition of "god".

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 This is ridicules.

 This is ridicules.  Things either exist or they don't exit, and if they don't exist they don't have any properties.  An eternal being which doesn't exist isn't an eternal being.  It isn't anything.  It is just a mistake.  why is this so hard to understand.  You can't define things into existence.  


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ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

nigelTheBold wrote:

Oh, and I forgot to tell you -- fuck you.

I'll take that as a compliment. Smiling

That's how it was intended. I only really say that to people I like, and people who are acting really stupid and should know better. You were the former -- I was the latter.

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ubuntuAnyone,Why not Linux

ubuntuAnyone,

Why not Linux Mint?  But seriously, I would be interested if you (or others) could flesh out what they take to be the typical concept of God and how it is contradictory, if it is.  Note: I am not baiting anyone or saying it can't be done -- which is typically how my comments seem to be perceived (sigh) -- but it would instructive and progressive nonetheless to open up that discussion if it has not already been opened up.

IC XC

David

EDIT: With regard to "ontological infinity," it actually does not say anything positive about God.  In fact, many of the descriptive terms used in reference to God are simply a repudiation of specific creaturely properties: for example, God is "immutable," but all this means is that God does not change.  It is important to keep this principle in mind when discussing the concept of God.


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drichards85 wrote:Why not

drichards85 wrote:
Why not Linux Mint? 

I think Ubuntu (from which Linux Mint is derived) is a good entry point for Linux newbies. As a self-styled Linux evangelist, I generally have people try Ubuntu first because its easy to use and install... But I'm all for whatever version whoever wants to use. I'm a sort of guy that custom roles everything myself, so I generally opt for pure Debian and customize it from there....

drichards85 wrote:

But seriously, I would be interested if you (or others) could flesh out what they take to be the typical concept of God and how it is contradictory, if it is.  Note: I am not baiting anyone or saying it can't be done -- which is typically how my comments seem to be perceived (sigh) -- but it would instructive and progressive nonetheless to open up that discussion if it has not already been opened up.

For a given ontological argument, this would probably be manifested differently. But I think in general, after establishing an uncaused incorporeal sentient being attributes called "divine perfections" in perfect being theology are assigned to this being, such as omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, omnipresence, completely good, and morally perfect etc. The contradictions are generally a combination of the problem of evil and two or more of these divine perfections.

 

 

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ubuntu,Funny, I have used

ubuntu,

Funny, I have used Ubuntu and Linux Mint (which, as I am sure you know, is built on Ubuntu) and prefer Mint because everything is out of the box - drivers, Adobe, Java, Open Office, etc.  I guess I am one of the "lazy" Linux people.  The less tweaks I have to do, the better.  And yet I am on a system right now that uses Windows XP.

I believe the problem of evil is more a problem for theism than it is for atheism.  What I mean is that I can see how it would represent a obstacle to belief in the sense that, if the objection is sound, then Christian doctrine is incoherent on both an intellectual and an existential level.  I take the stronger form of the atheist argument from the problem of evil to be that the Christian commitment to a God that is omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omnipresent is incompatible with its view on evil -- especially so-called gratuitous evil.  The best arguments I have seen put forward appear to reason not that God cannot exist because evil does, but that if evil exists in the way Christians say it does then the Christian God probably does not exist.  At least this is how I would argue, if I were an atheist, because a clever Christian can always ask an atheist to justify why he or she believes certain things to be evil.  The atheist does not even have to admit that he or she believes in evil because the typical Christian already believes certain things to be evil and sees gratuitous pain and suffering and yet still claims that God knows all, sees all, has power over all, and loves all.  If you examine various quarrels about the nature of God many of these simply boil down to which concept of God is more coherent - which is why I reject the assumption, suggested by many atheists I have encountered, that because there is no monolithic expression for What or Who God Is, it is impossible to determine which concept of God is accurate, so they are in all likelihood made up anyway.  I believe that some versions of theism just cohere more with the world as we already know it.

IC XC

David


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drichards85 wrote:Funny, I

drichards85 wrote:
Funny, I have used Ubuntu and Linux Mint (which, as I am sure you know, is built on Ubuntu) and prefer Mint because everything is out of the box - drivers, Adobe, Java, Open Office, etc.  I guess I am one of the "lazy" Linux people.  The less tweaks I have to do, the better.  And yet I am on a system right now that uses Windows XP.

Yeah...we all have to use Windows for something. I use it for gaming because some games don't run well on Linux....

drichards85 wrote:

I believe the problem of evil is more a problem for theism than it is for atheism.  What I mean is that I can see how it would represent a obstacle to belief in the sense that, if the objection is sound, then Christian doctrine is incoherent on both an intellectual and an existential level.  I take the stronger form of the atheist argument from the problem of evil to be that the Christian commitment to a God that is omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omnipresent is incompatible with its view on evil -- especially so-called gratuitous evil.  The best arguments I have seen put forward appear to reason not that God cannot exist because evil does, but that if evil exists in the way Christians say it does then the Christian God probably does not exist.  At least this is how I would argue, if I were an atheist, because a clever Christian can always ask an atheist to justify why he or she believes certain things to be evil.The atheist does not even have to admit that he or she believes in evil because the typical Christian already believes certain things to be evil and sees gratuitous pain and suffering and yet still claims that God knows all, sees all, has power over all, and loves all.

Atheists use the problem of evil to show internal inconsistencies in theism. In essence, atheists are arguing from within the theist's own camp.

Atheism typically grounds moral evil in an evolutionary model of common societal beliefs that promote the survival of the society in question, and for atheism, this is more satisfactory than transcendent explanations for such things. While this may be more satisfactory, I don't think it's complete. There work to be done here. I think it creates a slippery slope albeit it has some grip. Maybe a slippery climbing wall would be a better take on the old analogy.

drichards85 wrote:

If you examine various quarrels about the nature of God many of these simply boil down to which concept of God is more coherent - which is why I reject the assumption, suggested by many atheists I have encountered, that because there is no monolithic expression for What or Who God Is, it is impossible to determine which concept of God is accurate, so they are in all likelihood made up anyway.  I believe that some versions of theism just cohere more with the world as we already know it.

I'd agree with the statement there is no "monolithic expression" for a god, but we can deal with such categorically. If I'm speaking to a category into which god X fits, then I'm dealing with that god and all others like it. If I argue there is a discrepancy with omniscience and the omnibenevolence in light of the problem of evil, a theist whose god does not possess one of these attributes does categorically fit, such as Thomas Talbot's version of the Christian god who is not omniscient or some Muslim's understanding of Allah who is not omnibenevolent.

Some theistic existentialistic philosophers simply do no care about the problem of evil and other logical problems as an indictment against their god. Pascal, Kierkegaard, and possibly Decartes seemed to believe in spite of their inability to fully understand their god logically.

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ubuntuAnyone,Now we are

ubuntuAnyone,

Now we are [somewhat] on the same page.  I can abide arguments from the problem of evil that attempt to exploit inconsistencies within the theist camp, because those are in my opinion the most cogent.  I will return to the subject of the atheist foundation for morals in a moment, but I have to register my disagreement with the suggestion that we can lump together types of theism for the simple reason that several conceptions of God operate under different paradigms which are incommensurable.  Within the Christian tradition alone, equivalent or synonymous terms do not always pick out the same concepts so that often arguments over doctrine amount to nil.  While it may be true that some traditions ascribe similar attributes or properties to God which bear the same content, and so can be argued against together such that, if one falls they all fall, this is not true with respect to every variant of theism on the intellectual or spiritual market so to speak.

The perfect example is the "attributes" you list in the above post: omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence.  These are the three qualities most often associated with the problem of evil as articulated by Epictetus (do I have that right?) and Hume.  But it is still an open question whether these are attributes of God in the first place.  I do not mean that some reject one of these attributes but that they, like me, favor a more precise terminology of "properties" since, at least in philosophy, attributes are things our minds ascribe to an object rather than something which that object possesses.  Fire has the property of heat and ice has the property of cold; these are more than mere attributions of our minds to fire and ice, but properties which inhere in them.  The language of attribution came to prominence in the West because of its doctrine that, in God, all qualities are really the same and it is our perception of those qualities which differs.  This is a very common idea among Western theists and I reject the assumption.  I believe rather that they are distinct potentials that are made actual through the free operation of Three Persons with a single Will.

Then there is the problem of the association between some impersonal divine essence and these attributes or qualities such that, if God is these things, then He must be a certain way.  To paraphrase, God is subjected to necessity: If God were all-good, then He would [...] If God were all-powerful, then He would [...] and so forth.  I reject these implications on the ground that the properties are not equivalent to the essence so that formally speaking they are not essential but rather gratuitous.  Thus the possession of a property does not compel God toward any action.  If this were true, then creation would be necessary -- and so eternal, which all Christians reject, rather than ex nihilo -- because the ability to create would necessitate the activity of creation.  This would undercut divine freedom which is a necessary condition for omnipotence.  One may argue, however, that the Christian conceptions of goodness for example implies that a person should or should not perform certain actions, and while this may be true in a sense, it assumes that what constitutes goodness is volition or will (which I also reject), but it also been thought that goodness is an energy.  It is does not always follow under different models, then, that the all-goodness of God implies a particular volition, and besides will and goodness are distinct properties.

The point of this little diversion is to open up other ways to think about God and to demonstrate that some versions of theism are incompatible, and even incommensurable.  A successful argument against one version does not always translate to a successful argument against all versions, even those versions which appear to use the same concepts but in fact just use the same words.  It would be constructive, I think, to nail down concepts prior to any discussion of the problem of evil or related objections.  Various theodicies have been proposed - from Augustine to Plantinga - but these should be kept at bay until we can establish terms on which all are agreed.

Now I understand atheism grounds moral evil in evolutionary biology and societal convention.  I have discussed this with many an atheist, but there are a few problems to be addressed with this model.  First, I would have to know to which philosophy you subscribe: are you a naturalist? a materialist? a physicalist?  I take naturalism to be essential to if not implied by most atheist thought today, so if you are not a naturalist and these comments are inapplicable to you, forgive me.  If we suppose the natural order of space-time contains all that is, I only see two alternatives in which to ground ethics: as natural phenomena or as social construction.  There is a twin problem of whether ethics can be normative and whether ethical judgments are true.  In my opinion any coherent ethic must account for these, and if the question of normative ethics is unanswered then we have no basis for meta-ethics.  I see no a priori reason why one would ground ethics in the survival of the species as survival itself does not encourage the concepts of good and evil but of power.  To read Darwin and Nietzsche in concert, one could assert that the end of the species is survival of the fittest (read: strongest) by any means, and that if one rejects these norms what matters is power not virtue, so to identify the promotion of survival with good and its hindrance as evil is arbitrary.  A person who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family is still a thief in the eyes of the law.  This is "social convention."  Another problem is that the evolutionary model begs the question: if good is what promotes survival and bad is what hinders it, how do we know beforehand that the promotion of survival is good and its hindrance is bad?  If this is just the way nature has programmed us, what about the myriad exceptions to the rule - are they not also, from a genetic point-of-view, products of nature?  On what basis do we judge evil actions as, well, evil?

To return to the question of whether or not ethical judgments are true, I fail to see how they could be if one takes the social construction route.  Whose conventions do we mean when we say that cannibalism, child prostitution, and female circumcision are all wrong, and on what basis do we condemn the societies which practice these atrocities?  To judge them by our standards begs the question, because how do we know our standards are the right ones?  I believe we might say that certain things repulse us as a culture, but not that they are really wrong.  But you already admitted that some stuff needs to be sorted out here, so I will give you thought and just offer these as food for thought.

IC XC

David

P.S. I believe that Pascal and Kierkegaard address themselves to a different audience and were not tied up with the problem of evil, but in general the decisive factor between one religion and another in my view comes down to how they address the problem of evil.


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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

I'm actually going to give you the victory on this, though, I think that "ontological infinity" can be fleshed out more to the point where it does produce theism (the book I've cited actually does a great job of this).  For now, though, I will agree, if the argument is taken in isolation from the sources I've cited, that I myself have not done a good job in showing how it does.

Maybe you could revise the argument some and repost it with these revisions.

I think where atheists will attack though will be on contradictions between the properties assigned to a god, so the challenge is to come up with a noncontradictory definition of "god".

(1) Any concept which does not refer to something outside of the understanding is so because (i) the referent must sustain its being by external conditions which are not actualized, (ii) the concept is contradictory, or (iii) the concept is an abstract idea like a number or a grammatical operator.

(2) The concept of an eternal self-existent fully-actualized immutable immaterial indivisible being does not meet the criteria listed in (1).

THEREFORE, the concept mentioned in (2) refers to something outside of the understanding.

 

"Eternal" means existing without beginning or end.

"Self-existent" means ability to continue existing even if one's self is the only thing that exists.

"Fully actualized" means without need for anything; complete.  Omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence are corollaries of this.

"Immutable" means unable to be changed.

"Immaterial" means not made from preexisting components; non-spatial.

"Indivisible" means uncomposed; irreducibly whole; one.

 

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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

THEREFORE, the concept mentioned in (2) refers to something outside of the understanding.

I don't get this--is this a revised ontological argument?

So are you making an argument for ignorance here?

The "something outside of understanding" could be any number of things, but categorically all such things are nonsense.

 

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drichards85 wrote:...but I

drichards85 wrote:

...but I have to register my disagreement with the suggestion that we can lump together types of theism for the simple reason that several conceptions of God operate under different paradigms which are incommensurable...

If one cannot categorically handle such things, then it is virtually impossible to make assertions about the non-truth of propositions. In other words, in order to be an atheist, one would have to formally reject each and every possible god. The theist too must have the ultimate faith because he must reject belief in all other possible gods in light of  belief in his or her own god without actually evaluating all other belief systems. So in short, I'm saying, "If the shoot fits..." otherwise argument X doesn't apply to the given conception of god. Now this is no excuse to be lazy. I don't want to make hasty generalizations either which is just as bad and dying the death of a thousand qualifications.

drichards85 wrote:

The perfect example is the "attributes" you list in the above post: omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence.  These are the three qualities most often associated with the problem of evil as articulated by Epictetus (do I have that right?) and Hume.  But it is still an open question whether these are attributes of God in the first place.  I do not mean that some reject one of these attributes but that they, like me, favor a more precise terminology of "properties" since, at least in philosophy, attributes are things our minds ascribe to an object rather than something which that object possesses.

I like a more granular approach too. But that doesn't mean I can't group understandings together on common grounds. Consider the many possible understandings of omnipotence (Peter Geach did a pretty good summation of these)-- If I direct an argument at Geach's third category, then by default it probably would apply to the first two as well.

drichards85 wrote:

Fire has the property of heat and ice has the property of cold; these are more than mere attributions of our minds to fire and ice, but properties which inhere in them.  The language of attribution came to prominence in the West because of its doctrine that, in God, all qualities are really the same and it is our perception of those qualities which differs.  This is a very common idea among Western theists and I reject the assumption.  I believe rather that they are distinct potentials that are made actual through the free operation of Three Persons with a single Will.

Heat and cold are relative understanding of the same thing, namely temperature. I can make a statement about temperature (i.e. the temperature increased) and it applies to both "hot" (i.e. it got hotter) and "cold" (i.e. it got less cold).

The attributes, like you said, arose from a need to understand god concepts, and thus the rise of systematized (aka systematic) theology.

I don't understand what you mean by "I distinct potentials that are made actual through the free operation of Three Persons with a single Will." But in any case, is this not yet another understanding of one these things another may call omnipotence, omniscience, etc?

drichards85 wrote:

Thus the possession of a property does not compel God toward any action.  If this were true, then creation would be necessary -- and so eternal, which all Christians reject, rather than ex nihilo -- because the ability to create would necessitate the activity of creation.  This would undercut divine freedom which is a necessary condition for omnipotence.  One may argue, however, that the Christian conceptions of goodness for example implies that a person should or should not perform certain actions, and while this may be true in a sense, it assumes that what constitutes goodness is volition or will (which I also reject), but it also been thought that goodness is an energy.  It is does not always follow under different models, then, that the all-goodness of God implies a particular volition, and besides will and goodness are distinct properties.

While the possession of these abilities may not compel one to action, one's inaction solicits the question of whether or not one is indeed capable of such action. For instance, suppose a god exists who is omnibenevolent and omnipotent. It is reasonable then to think that this god can act such that the god removes evil, yet evil exists. So either the god in question is unable, unwilling or both. In either case though, one has reason to believe that such a god as this does not exist. I'm using this drive-by example to show that there is reason to believe he doesn't exist which is all one needs. Being compelled then is irrelevant, I think.

drichards85 wrote:

The point of this little diversion is to open up other ways to think about God and to demonstrate that some versions of theism are incompatible, and even incommensurable.  A successful argument against one version does not always translate to a successful argument against all versions, even those versions which appear to use the same concepts but in fact just use the same words.  It would be constructive, I think, to nail down concepts prior to any discussion of the problem of evil or related objections.  Various theodicies have been proposed - from Augustine to Plantinga - but these should be kept at bay until we can establish terms on which all are agreed.

I think it is naive to think that a successful argument against one concept of a god works for all gods. I certainly agree that before any sort of intelligible discussion can happen, everyone needs to understand what it is we're dealing with.

drichards85 wrote:

Now I understand atheism grounds moral evil in evolutionary biology and societal convention.  I have discussed this with many an atheist, but there are a few problems to be addressed with this model.  First, I would have to know to which philosophy you subscribe: are you a naturalist? a materialist? a physicalist?  I take naturalism to be essential to if not implied by most atheist thought today, so if you are not a naturalist and these comments are inapplicable to you, forgive me.  If we suppose the natural order of space-time contains all that is, I only see two alternatives in which to ground ethics: as natural phenomena or as social construction.  There is a twin problem of whether ethics can be normative and whether ethical judgments are true.  In my opinion any coherent ethic must account for these, and if the question of normative ethics is unanswered then we have no basis for meta-ethics.  I see no a priori reason why one would ground ethics in the survival of the species as survival itself does not encourage the concepts of good and evil but of power.  To read Darwin and Nietzsche in concert, one could assert that the end of the species is survival of the fittest (read: strongest) by any means, and that if one rejects these norms what matters is power not virtue, so to identify the promotion of survival with good and its hindrance as evil is arbitrary.  A person who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family is still a thief in the eyes of the law.  This is "social convention."  Another problem is that the evolutionary model begs the question: if good is what promotes survival and bad is what hinders it, how do we know beforehand that the promotion of survival is good and its hindrance is bad?  If this is just the way nature has programmed us, what about the myriad exceptions to the rule - are they not also, from a genetic point-of-view, products of nature?  On what basis do we judge evil actions as, well, evil?

To return to the question of whether or not ethical judgments are true, I fail to see how they could be if one takes the social construction route.  Whose conventions do we mean when we say that cannibalism, child prostitution, and female circumcision are all wrong, and on what basis do we condemn the societies which practice these atrocities?  To judge them by our standards begs the question, because how do we know our standards are the right ones?  I believe we might say that certain things repulse us as a culture, but not that they are really wrong.  But you already admitted that some stuff needs to be sorted out here, so I will give you thought and just offer these as food for thought.

I certainly agree that evolutionary models have problems, but I do believe they have some warrant. Atheists, for the most part, reject normative ethics but also point to the fact there is a strong correlation between what many use as the strongest examples of normative ethics and what evolutionary models show as things to be the most beneficial in terms of survival for a society. This does not produce a meta-ethic in the traditional understanding of the this branch of philosophy, but it is more or less an analog to it. There isn't an a priori reason per se for it to be normative because to do so would be to superimpose teleology where none exists. Judgements are not "true" or "false" as these are descriptors of propositions. To ascribe "true" and "false" to naturalistic understandings of such things would create is-ought problems. Also, "good" and "bad" then are somewhat mitigated from the typical Western understanding of such things and after having studied some Easter philosophy, the naturalistic explanations of "good" and "bad" sound more akin to these. For example, if some one is in a wreck, in Western cultures we tend to ascribe "fault" to someone and that person is responsible for the damages. In Eastern cultures, fault is not assigned. Rather the one who is capable of covering the damages is the one responsible for the damages. Westerners may think of this as unjust, but the Easterner look at the Westerner and decries a person who has lost his home and is living on the streets because he was faulted in an accident, and thinks that's unjust. I do think though when one tries to ground the Western concepts of ethics in evolutionary models, then you get a Nietzchian recipe for ethics which I think is a breeding pool for disasters. How one grounds such things becomes a complex system of of societal roles, face (shame), utilitarian ethics, emotions, etc. I can see it budding, but a systematized rule-of-law is long ways off.

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

THEREFORE, the concept mentioned in (2) refers to something outside of the understanding.

I don't get this--is this a revised ontological argument?

So are you making an argument for ignorance here?

The "something outside of understanding" could be any number of things, but categorically all such things are nonsense. 

It is a revised ontological argument, per your request.

It is not an argument for ignorance.  It is an application of a philosophy of language which agrees that statements regarding non-existence say something about the real world and also that we do not use "existence" to refer to an actual property (I'm guessing that Aristotle, Saussure, Wittgenstein, and Ockham would all agree with this).  Under the auspices of these presuppositions, one can come to understand a criteria for non-existence and draw a natural connection between the thought of an eternal self-existent fully-actualized immutable immaterial indivisible being and an eternal self-existent fully-actualized immutable immaterial indivisible in reality, by virtue of the meaning itself, which is what Anselm implied.

Are you saying that something existing outside of our thought is nonsense?  Do you agree that the world would exist even if you were not here to perceive it?

An eternal self-existent fully-actualized immutable immaterial indivisible being cannot be anything other than an eternal self-existent fully-actualized immutable immaterial indivisible being.  What else would you call such a being other than "God"?

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Meaning_Of_Life wrote:It is

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

It is a revised ontological argument, per your request.

Gotcha. I wasn't sure.

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

It is not an argument for ignorance.  It is an application of a philosophy of language which agrees that statements regarding non-existence say something about the real world and also that we do not use "existence" to refer to an actual property (I'm guessing that Aristotle, Saussure, Wittgenstein, and Ockham would all agree with this).  Under the auspices of these presuppositions, one can come to understand a criteria for non-existence and draw a natural connection between the thought of an eternal self-existent fully-actualized immutable immaterial indivisible being and an eternal self-existent fully-actualized immutable immaterial indivisible in reality, by virtue of the meaning itself, which is what Anselm implied.

But the conclusion was for something "outside of the understanding" Was this a typo? As written, it appears that you are arguing that something is outside the scope of understanding, which if this is as such, then this  is an argument for nonsense, which I believe to be the category opposite of understanding. Do you agree that the world would exist even if you were not here to perceive it?

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

Are you saying that something existing outside of our thought is nonsense?

Something outside our "understanding" generally speaking is nonsense. If I fail to understand it, it is as good as nonsense to me. Now, I don't think the latter is what you're arguing for, and I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, because your conclusion is antithetic to understanding. If what you are arguing for is outside of understanding no argument could intelligibly show that such a thing exists or does not exist because You, me, or anyone else have no means to perceive it even if it does exist. All I can do is relegate such things to the category of nonsense.  Sure, the world would exist even if I wasn't around to perceive it. But an understanding of it wouldn't exist if there were no minds to perceive. If I did exist and was otherwise braindead, no argument is going to convince me one way or another. I simply don't have the faculties to understand it. If I'm understanding this right, then we are as good as braindead about the entity in question. It does not matter if the object in question exists or not--there is simply no way to know, and this seems to be what the argument is attempting to prove.

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

Meaning_Of_Life wrote:

An eternal self-existent fully-actualized immutable immaterial indivisible being cannot be anything other than an eternal self-existent fully-actualized immutable immaterial indivisible being.  What else would you call such a being other than "God"?

This is much better than just "infinite". I think it is sufficient for the discussion at hand.

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