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The ontological argument, for Egor
Posted: 14 February 2012 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Since Egor believes in God for reasons, rather than faith alone, I thought it would be fun to debate these reasons. Let’s start with one - the ontological argument:

if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. If it only exists in the mind, a greater being is possible—one which exists in the mind and in reality.

-wikipedia

My response:

Why does the greatest possible being imaginable have to necessarily exist in reality? This is an unsupported premise.

I yield the rest of my time.

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Posted: 14 February 2012 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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domokato - 14 February 2012 04:05 PM

Since Egor believes in God for reasons, rather than faith alone, I thought it would be fun to debate these reasons. Let’s start with one - the ontological argument:

if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. If it only exists in the mind, a greater being is possible—one which exists in the mind and in reality.

-wikipedia

My response:

Why does the greatest possible being imaginable have to necessarily exist in reality? This is an unsupported premise.

I yield the rest of my time.

It does not exist in reality, only in the mind of the individual?  I can cite a few Sci Fi authors who have imagined some pretty weird beings. But of course they were honest and listed their imaginings under science “fiction” in reality.

OTOH, theists can imagine a supernatural being, but they are dishonest and list it under spiritual “fact” in reality.

[ Edited: 14 February 2012 04:26 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 14 February 2012 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Exactly. In order to be accurate the argument should be worded that. “if the greatest possible being exists at all and it exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. If it only exists in the mind, a greater being is possible—one which exists in the mind and in reality, if it exists at all.”  You can see how circular the reasoning is though.

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Posted: 14 February 2012 05:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Exodus 3:14
King James Version (KJV)

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Unfortunately god does not explain Why.  And why does god identify itself as “That” to Moses?

(some versions of the bible have conveniently substituted “That” with “Who”).  A little tinkering with god’s own words never hurt anybody…. LOL

[ Edited: 14 February 2012 11:03 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 15 February 2012 12:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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macgyver - 14 February 2012 05:18 PM

You can see how circular the reasoning is though.

I don’t see that. Which is not saying that I think the argument is valid. Anselm’s argument is a little more subtle. And one should take care in translating the Latin. Wikipedia gives a translation closer to the original Latin:

  Our understanding of God is a being than which no greater can be conceived.
  The idea of God exists in the mind.
  A being which exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only in the mind.
  If God only exists in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater being—that which exists in reality.
  We cannot be imagining something that is greater than God.
  Therefore, God exists.

And then there is the second version, which in some respect is stronger, because it does not leave the realm of the mind, but here Wikipedia is not so precise. So from here:

God cannot be conceived not to exist.—God is that, than which nothing greater can be conceived.—That which can be conceived not to exist is not God.

AND it assuredly exists so truly, that it cannot be conceived not to exist. For, it is possible to conceive of a being which cannot be conceived not to exist; and this is greater than one which can be conceived not to exist. Hence, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, can be conceived not to exist, it is not that, than which nothing greater can be conceived. But this is an irreconcilable contradiction. There is, then, so truly a being than which nothing greater can be conceived to exist, that it cannot even be conceived not to exist;. and this being you are, O Lord, our God.

So the argument is that when you can think of God, you must necessarily think he exists. So even if God does not really exist, just having a concept of God (i.e. a being than which no greater can be conceived) implies that you must think it exists. Not doing so is logically inconsistent.

My personal objections: the Kantian approach, i.e. that existence is not an attribute that can be said to be greater than something else. ‘Greater’ is always in a certain context, (higher mountain, faster car) but existence is not a valid context.

The other objection: Anselm’s description (a being than which no greater can be conceived) is not a ‘rigid designator’. It is similar to the concept of infinity in mathematics. Infinity cannot be used as if it is just a number, it has a logic of its own.

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Posted: 15 February 2012 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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GdB - 15 February 2012 12:05 AM

My personal objections: the Kantian approach, i.e. that existence is not an attribute that can be said to be greater than something else. ‘Greater’ is always in a certain context, (higher mountain, faster car) but existence is not a valid context.

Right. “Being” or “existence” is not along a continuum. Something either exists or it doesn’t exist. It’s true that there is the matter of vagueness, where we can say that such and so is pretty much a table or a virus is sort of alive, but once you get over the liminal area, there’s nothing more to be said about existence than that the thing exists or not. Of any two things that exist, neither can be said to have a “greater” existence than the other. The very idea is absurd.

If existence were along a continuum, and if this were a good argument, we could run a similar argument with leprechauns:

Our understanding of the super-leprechaun is a leprechaun than which no greater can be conceived.
The idea of a leprechaun exists in the mind.
A being which exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only in the mind.
If the super-leprechaun only exists in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater leprechaun—that which exists in reality.
We cannot be imagining a leprechaun that is greater than the super-leprechaun.
Therefore the super-leprechaun exists.

Reductio ad absurdum.

The problem is obvious: one cannot derive the existence of something simply from our conception of it. (Except perhaps the conceptions themselves, but those are mental objects).

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Posted: 15 February 2012 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I guess this is why I don’t get philosophy. Because this argument makes absolutely no sense to me. Whether or not a anything exists (quantum spookiness aside) has nothing to do with the firing of synapses in some gray matter on a remote planet. Either it is “out there” or it isn’t. How can thinking about it or not thinking about it have anything to do with it?

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Posted: 15 February 2012 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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FreeInKy - 15 February 2012 09:02 AM

I guess this is why I don’t get philosophy. Because this argument makes absolutely no sense to me. Whether or not a anything exists (quantum spookiness aside) has nothing to do with the firing of synapses in some gray matter on a remote planet. Either it is “out there” or it isn’t. How can thinking about it or not thinking about it have anything to do with it?

Exactly. But please don’t blame the problem on philosophy: blame it on bad philosophy, or on apologetics.

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Posted: 15 February 2012 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Fair enough, Doug. But I still don’t get philosophy. I had two introductory courses in college and they just left me scratching my head. I think some of us are just predisposed to not “getting” philosophy.

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Posted: 15 February 2012 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I’m ashamed to admit I never took a philosophy class. It wasnt required. I really don;t get this argument at all. Why should it even make a difference whether being and existence are on a continuum or not? The fact that I can conceive of a being greater than one that only exists in my mind does not in any way lead to the conclusion that such a being must exist. It only has to exist if there is such a thing as a greater being.

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Posted: 15 February 2012 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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macgyver - 15 February 2012 10:24 AM

I’m ashamed to admit I never took a philosophy class. It wasnt required. I really don;t get this argument at all. Why should it even make a difference whether being and existence are on a continuum or not? The fact that I can conceive of a being greater than one that only exists in my mind does not in any way lead to the conclusion that such a being must exist. It only has to exist if there is such a thing as a greater being.

I’m not going to go far in defending the indefensible, but the general idea is that “existence is a perfection”. Therefore in order to be the most perfect being, one must exist. (Since if one didn’t exist, one would to that extent be imperfect).

I know, I know. It doesn’t make any sense, in so many ways. But that’s the argument, anyhow.

oh oh

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Posted: 15 February 2012 12:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Well that helps me understand a bit more, Doug. Like you said, it still makes little sense but at least I understand the argument. I’m going to ponder that a while.

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Posted: 15 February 2012 07:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I dreaded dealing with Anselm’s problem in a philosophy class, and though an instructor in one covered it, he didn’t include it in an exam. I have no idea what I might have said then. Mcgyver has a nice brief answer up there that says what I think, and I like the following from FreeInKy:

The fact that I can conceive of a being greater than one that only exists in my mind does not in any way lead to the conclusion that such a being must exist. It only has to exist if there is such a thing as a greater being.

I suggest that answer is improved if it is limited to only the first of the two sentences. Nothing supplemental is necessary.

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Posted: 15 February 2012 08:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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1984isnow - 15 February 2012 07:34 PM

I dreaded dealing with Anselm’s problem in a philosophy class, and though an instructor in one covered it, he didn’t include it in an exam. I have no idea what I might have said then. Mcgyver has a nice brief answer up there that says what I think, and I like the following from FreeInKy:

The fact that I can conceive of a being greater than one that only exists in my mind does not in any way lead to the conclusion that such a being must exist. It only has to exist if there is such a thing as a greater being.

I suggest that answer is improved if it is limited to only the first of the two sentences. Nothing supplemental is necessary.

I agree. Moreover does perfection have to be intelligent? Can perfection not mean to be mathematical perfection?

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Posted: 15 February 2012 08:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Another musing.

Can there be perfection? Does perfection not mean perfect equilibrium? Does perfect equilibrium not mean static? Does static not mean the end of Cause and Effect?
Does the end of Cause and Effect not mean the end of everything. No potential, no quantum, no matter, no gravity, no reality, no existence.

IMO, the “Uncertainty Effect” in quantum necessarily prevents perfection. Therefore, if perfection in nature cannot be attained, it matters not if we can imagine it. As long as the Universe is dynamic, there is no (cannot be) perfection.
Therefore a perfect god (being) does not (cannot) exist.

[ Edited: 15 February 2012 09:46 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 16 February 2012 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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1984isnow - 15 February 2012 07:34 PM

... and I like the following from FreeInKy:

The fact that I can conceive of a being greater than one that only exists in my mind does not in any way lead to the conclusion that such a being must exist. It only has to exist if there is such a thing as a greater being.

I suggest that answer is improved if it is limited to only the first of the two sentences. Nothing supplemental is necessary.

Thanks, but I can’t take credit for that. It was macgyver, but I concur!

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