• Article by: Reasonably Faithless

    Mathematician and former Christian
    • allan

      1. God is the most perfect (‘the greatest’) being conceivable.
      2. It is more perfect (‘greater’) to exist than not to exist.
      3. Therefore, God must exist.

      Just don’t get it. I gather it’s regarded as a’semantic puzzle’ (but not a serious proof) by virtually all professional philosophers. My dumb ass, non philosophical view is that ‘beings’ are biological entities. Minds are constructs in the physical world. Was there an assumption that supernatural entities existed when this was originally proposed? Unless we have some evidence that non physical beings can exist we don’t get past 1.

      • but assuming that “beings” are biological entities is to beg the question against immaterial beings. while it might actually be the case that no immaterial beings (or objects) exist, you can’t really assume this in order to prove that god (traditionally defined to be immaterial) doesn’t exist – or even to refute an argument *for* god’s existence.

        but yes, theistic philosophers have mostly abandoned that version of the argument and moved on to modal versions. see for example – http://www.skepticink.com/reasonablyfaithless/2013/01/01/arguing-about-ontology/

        i think the biggest problem with the argument as you state it is that the first premise begs the question by assuming that “most perfect being conceivable” is a meaningful concept. there are also issues with “perfect with respect to what?”.

    • baal

      I’ve watched a fair number of debates from WLC and his opponents usually mention that even if we were to accept the Ontological Argument for the existence of ‘a god’ we’d still be stuck with a ‘which god’ problem. WLC hasn’t yet (in my awareness) to a first approximation of my satisfaction solved that problem. He has at times tack on a well my god is the greatest one QED I proved mine (i.e. he denies he has a problem).

      • yes, and i think the problem is indeed a big one. not only has he got to explain why god – defined as or assumed to be a maximally great being – would create the suffering we see with our own eyes, but he also has to explain how his particular version of god could possibly be regarded as all-good when he is portrayed in the bible as something a very long way away from all-good.

        • Clare45

          However some Christians and most observant Jews see their god being authoritarian and not necessarily “good” . Disobey me and you will suffer! Or sometimes they argue that the suffering is deliberately imposed by their god for some greater (yet to be understood) good.

    • I love your counter to the OA. Did you create it? Have you ever used it on a theist in a debate and if so, what did they say in return?

      • Hi TT. Yes, this is one of my own. I’ve used it once or twice, and usually the response is “oh yeah? Tell me ALL ABOUT this being you can conceive of”.

        • Interesting. Occasionally I debate w/ theists and would love to catch one with this after they make the OA. It’s easy to think of a better god than Yahweh. Just remove Leviticus and Deuteronomy and already you have a better god.

    • Cartesian012

      Your argument is invalid due to unstated premises. Premise 2 needs defending because it’s a theological statement of opinion rather than an appeal to an axiomatic truth.