Ontological arguments make God's existence at least slightly more likely
The topic of this debate: Ontological arguments make God's existence at least slightly more likely
Thank you very much for the challenge and sorry for the wait, here is my only OA. I didn't have time for pictures or links to the works of supporting philosophers but I did manage to produce an ontological argument for the existence of God, with some serious thought, from my brain. I would consider this a success for my first post here on Debate.org. Please enjoy!
Let's begin by trying to imagine a time before the universe, an era of nothing at all; no matter, no space, no light, no dark, no up, no down. I tried and couldn"t do it, but give it a shot and you will fail too. What we are trying to do is perceive nothing while perception is by definition "the awareness or consciousness of something." so to perceive nothing is to stop perceiving altogether which defeats the purpose of the exercise. Having deemed it impossible for us to look directly at nothing; perhaps we should take just one step back and do our best to think of something that is as close to nothing as it can get, redefining "nothing" as whatever is just the smallest bit simpler than that. To do this I will isolate an apple from the rest of the universe and remove pieces from it in my mind, one by one so as not to get ahead of myself, until I have reached a point where I personally cannot remove anymore from it. In a few moments I have hit the cellular level, then the molecular, the atomic, subatomic, and finally the infinitesimal, which is where I begin to question whether or not something of this "Infinite smallness" can actually exist.
Everything we observe in nature has some length in all three spacial dimensions. (with the exception of concepts, as well as the photon, and electron, which seem to behave as point particles in certain situations) and so it is intuitively maddening to consider something thoroughly and materially existent that does not posses extent in these dimensions. This irritation arises from an insufficient definition of "Existence" or "Being" with which to judge something"s potential for being. Unsurprisingly, webster"s definitions of "existence" and "being" are of no help to us here and so we are left with no better option than to determine our own deeper definitions of these words.
So what does it mean to exist? This I believe should be the largest, if not the only point of contingency in my argument, and so it hurts to do this but I am quite rushed writing this portion and so in leu of a proper explanation I will give you my definition as clearly as I can, as well as a thought experiment to back it up, and if there is any confusion or disagreement I am sure we can work that out in future rounds of the debate. Simply put: To exist, is to effect another existent thing. If something is effecting me, I know that it exists. If it is not directly effecting me however, I simply cannot know one way or another until it, though some chain of causes and effects, comes to effect me or my immediate environment, whereupon I can register it"s existence with my senses and/or my intellect. If something were to suddenly stop effecting the world around it then it does not exist as far as the world is concerned.
The isolated apple on the other hand, although nonexistent in the system of the universe, can indeed exist in it"s own sub category of reality, because it is composed of a practically infinite number of smaller parts, which are in turn their own existent things, which qualifies the apple as a whole universe in itself, even apart from the far greater reality that we all enjoy. The infinitesimal on the other hand is necessarily comprised of only a single, infinitely small part. It stands to reason then, that when this infinitesimal is considered apart from any other thing it simply cannot exist on the condition that "To exist is to effect another existent thing.". The Isolated Infinitesimal does not exist.
So what does this mean about the TRUELY atomic? This means that the most basic thing that can be said to exist independently of other existent things consists of 3 fundamentally immaterial elements; A member (in this case a singularity of infinitesimal dimensions), another member, and an abstract medium through which they may interact and so fulfill the condition they must effect to exist. (Think "logic" or "natural law" rather than the more familiar mediums of water, air, or space.) These elements, which necessarily lack physical properties and individual meaning, constitute an independently existent triad that does indeed possess physical properties (via the behavior of it's immaterial components) which should be observable only by observing the triad's behavior with other such things. Most notably: These members do not exist independently but only conjunctively and therefore lose any small degree of thing-ness if the larger system is disrupted.
[Harry Potter does not exist, neither does Hermione Granger, and if even just one of them isn't there then they certainly can't speak to each other. If I were to say "Harry talked to Hermione." however, then something certainly does exist, the story of Harry Potter, which indeed has had a significant effect on the world around it.]
[Although I do not personally subscribe to all of the catholic junk associated with the Holy Trinity, this idea does seem to suggest that if God were in fact the simplest possible existent being then he is necessarily in this strange condition of being simultaneously three inextricable parts and one part-less thing.]
Now for the final step, what happens when we remove a part from this triad and make the system of the universe just a tad bit simpler? Nothing happens. Once a member of this triad is removed the two left behind are left with no way to fulfill the conditions sustaining mutual existence and so cease to be things altogether. Now we have nothing, and as I stated passingly earlier in the argument, the "abstract medium" of this triad, the medium which has just ceased to exist is natural law or logic itself. We wanted nothing and we got it, we were prepared to give up the world, but little did we know that would mean relinquishing logic as well. So what happens now? If logic/natural law truly is that medium through which things happen and so must also be the governing force responsible for separating those things which may and those which may not happen, then shouldn"t nothing... and everything happen? This is paradoxical, obviously, but what does it matter anymore now that God is dead? I insist that everything and nothing could have happened and in fact did happen. Nothing literally exploded into everything and not-thing that could ever be and/or should never ever happen, instantaneously. The moment that there was nothing there came every-bloody-thing.
Now then what does this everybloodything look like? Let"s give it some properties;
-Because this is "everybloodything" and there is no logic present to say that one thing cannot be simultaneously itself and another very different thing, this chaos would be pretty thoroughly (even infinitely) omnifarious (to say possessing of all forms.)
-It is not only unrestrained by the laws of nature, but is also free of even logic itself and so must be omnipotent.
-To say that "nothing created it" is the same as saying that it is "Uncreated", and nothing sure did create it!
-We have determined that this thing is infinitely omnifarious and so it isn"t so hard to imagine that his thing may possess infinite minds. (or even just a single infinite mind.) If this is the case then it must also be infinitely intelligent or "omniscient" and because at least a few minds amongst this infinite horde must be vaguely human thinking, we can say that this thing is probably personal to an infinite degree.
God - A personal, omnifarious and omnipresent, as well as "intelligent, omnipotent and omniscient supernatural being that created the universe(s) or is the universe itself, existed before all things and was not created."
Time is ticking so I am afraid I will have to hit the brakes pretty hard, but I hope what I put out there is at least comprehensible, seeing as "pleasant to read" may be a bit much to ask for. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for reading.
You"re move Salam!
I want to thank Pro for accepting this debate.
R1: Rebuttal to Salam's assertion that my argument is not an ontological one:
“Ontological Arguments are philosophical arguments for the existence of God that uses ontology.” [sic] -Con
this is entirely true. However, this definition is only helpful if we know what the word “ontology” refers to;
“Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences. Although ontology as a philosophical realm is academic in the sense that it is inseparable from each thinker's epistemology, it has practical application in information science and information technology, where it informs ontologies with chosen taxonomies. “ 
The argument I supplied opens by defining the nature of “existence”, proceeded to determine whether or not an infinitesimal can exist by the resulting criterion, used that judgment to give us that simplest thing I believe to be capable of existing outside of every other being, and closed by describing the time before anything existed at all by exploring what happens when this criterion for existence is not met. To say that my submission is not a thoroughly if not exclusively ontological argument one would need to supply their own special definition of the word “Ontology”.
As far I now know, I submitted something based on novel material, and so although it is indeed an ontological argument I am not surprised to find that it is not one of “the ontological arguments” [sic] with which Salam is familiar.
R2: Clarification of Existence and the Elements of the Simplest Existent Thing:
“Pro defines to exist as "to effect another existent thing" [sic]. But to affect another existent thing, requires the other thing to already exist, which would be a circular definition. Why complicate the definition of existence when it's a very simple definition? The precise definition is to have objective reality or being .” [sic] -Con
There are a number of things wrong here, however, I do believe that the explaination given for my conclusion was insufficiently thorough, and so I will clarify my reasoning before I begin my defense.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “exist” as a verb meaning to “Have objectivereality or being” however, this is a circular definition because the definitions for “being” and “reality” are quite miserably “existence”  and “The state or quality of having existence or substance”  respectively.
I referred to this inconsistency in my original argument;
“This irritation arises from an insufficient definition of "Existence" with which to judge something's potential for being. Unsurprisingly, Webster's definitions of "existence" and “being" are of no help to us here and so we are left with no better option than to determine our own deeper definitions of these words.” [sic] -Myself
Proof of “Existence by Effect”:
I challenge Salam to prove my reasoning flawed and/or give an example of something that exists and yet does not effect another existent thing. If he succeeds; then my greater argument crumbles and I will concede immediately. If he cannot provide such an example (or deems my reasoning sound) then I propose we consider this an established point from which we may continue the debate.
Rebuttal to Pro's “R1. Existence and Elements of existence”:
Salam dismisses the definition of existence as fallacious on the grounds that “to affect another existent thing, requires the other thing to already exist, which would be a circular definition.” [sic] and (ironically) supplies an even more obviously circular definition to replace it. The statement “to exist is to effect another existent thing” is no more fallacious than the statement that “to play basketball is to interact with other basketball players”. Basketball is a strictly multiplayer game, and so if there is only a single person in the world who wants to play basketball, then that one player simply cannot play a proper game of basketball. (Even though a lone person could play basketball, he will never find himself actually playing basketball.) In the same way, existence, as defined, cannot occur with less than 2 conceivable things. (Even though a lone thing could exist, it will never find itself actually existing.)
Furthermore, I believe what you say here, Salam, is absolutely true;
“there's no reason to rationally and logically believe that an infinitesimal small part doesn't actually exist. It can even exist physically. Size is not a precondition for existence.” [sic] -Con
Although I did refer to the concept as “intuitively maddening” I never once suggested that an infinitesimally small thing cannot exist in the grander universe, In fact I said they actually do!
“Everything we observe in nature has some length in all three spacial dimensions. (with the exception of concepts, as well as the photon and electron, which seem to behave as point particles in certain situations)[...]” [sic] -Myself
Let me say this once more, this time with feeling; Science has accumulated extremely strong evidence to suggest that the electron and photon actually are spatially infinitesimal. As far as we know; neither one has volume and so physical size is quite obviously not a prerequisite for existence. However, this is not true for all infinitesimals and I took great care to say exactly what kind of infinitesimal cannot exist; The Isolated Infinitesimal. “Isolated” (with a capital “I”) meaning separate from every other thing; and “Infinitesimal” (with a capital “I”) to mean “that which is indefinitely small in any conceivable dimension” not just the 3 spatial ones. (An electron in this case may be an “infinitesimal” (lower-case) because it does not occupy space, but it may not be an uppercase “Infinitesimal” because it does have a definite, non-infinitesimal value in the dimensions of say “Charge” and “Mass”)
To clarify my reasoning more formally:
Proof of The Nonentity of The “Isolated Infinitesimal”:
[or something of indefinitely small dimensions]
“The isolated apple [Or any other Non-Infinitesimal object] on the other hand, although nonexistent in the system of the universe, can indeed exist in it's own sub category of reality, because it is composed of a practically infinite number of smaller parts, which are in turn their own existent things, which qualifies the apple as a whole universe in itself, even apart from the far greater reality that we all enjoy. The infinitesimal on the other hand is necessarily comprised of only a single, infinitely small part. It stands to reason then, that when this infinitesimal is considered apart from any other thing it simply cannot exist on the condition that "To exist is to effect another existent thing.". [Therefore] The Isolated Infinitesimal does not exist.” [sic] -Myself
And with that, I am afraid I am out of characters and time, and so my conclusion will have to be justified in the future. I would however like to draw attention to Con's “R2. The Harry Potter Argument” where he says Pro argues that even though “Harry Potter doesn't actually exist, "If I were to say "Harry talked to Hermione." however, then something certainly does exist."” Where he uses a gross misquotation, cutting the last sentence short where it would have clarified that it is not Harry Potter that exists but rather just the story of Harry Potter which certainly does exist in reality as well as Imagination. Furthermore, If you read carefully you will see that this was never even an argument, but rather a colorful illustration of the effect of a preceding argument. I now realize that I simply cannot afford to take such tangents however tempting they may be.
Afraid I must adress my conclusion seperately in the next round. Turnover Con.
I am not sure what Pro intended from this meeting, but it appears that Pro didn't defend the OA, but rather some of the initial assertions he originally made. I will address those comments and also show why Pro's OA is not sound.
To begin, I would like to thank Con for responding so promptly (affording a courtesy that I have been unable to reciprocate) and to say that this point here has really opened my eyes;
“Pro simply proved that God doesn't exist! How? I'll show it here:
No, I have not just conceded the debate, I am actually rather happy where we are right now. The point above demonstrates to me that my premises are at least well understood, if not accepted (albeit, reservedly) by Con. With this last round I will address some of Con's assertions, and provide a final summary of my argument.
“I think the reason it's [to mean Existence] difficult to define is simply because the definition is very basic and very intuitive. We don't need to explain to the reader what actual existence is. However, the best definition to existence is "to have an objective reality"” [sic] -Con
“If a lone thing exists, then it simply exists (objectively, rationally and actually)!” [sic] -Con
What Con is arguing here can be simply stated “To exist is to exist and nothing more can be said about it!” Although I will grant that this assertion may not be entirely indefensible, he certainly has made no effort to defend the statement here and so it remains a baseless assertion. With that said, I would like to make something very clear, I do not believe things cannot exist on their own, in fact I believe that all things in the world would be perfectly fine separated from the rest of reality, with the exception of exactly one special variety of thing: Those things which are not composed of parts.
R2: Argument From Ignorance.
“However, Pro made a poor defense point. He challenged me to give an example of something that exists and yet does not affect another existent thing. If I fail to do so, he argues that his argument would be true. [...] his argument is called an argument from ignorance  (When one argues that something is true because it's not proven false).” -Con
Although Con does ultimately concede the point, he first makes sure to inform us that my challenge was an Argument From Ignorance, and this is simply untrue. Had I neglected to provide evidence for my claim, demanded evidence to the contrary, and proceeded to declare the point won when no contradictory data was provided, that would've been a blatant abuse of logic. However, I provided a straight-forward 5 point syllogism to support my conclusion before presenting Con with three options; expose a flaw in my logic, provide a counterexample to my conclusion, or concede the point so that we may move on. Is this not reasonable?
R3: I disproved God.
“P1: God existed before all things (Definition – See Round 1)
Con's reasoning would be sound if only this argument could not be just as well applied to the law upon which it is built.
Proof That The Law of Existence By Effect Did Not Exist Before All Things:
God is defined as that which “existed before all things and was not created.” As you can see in my original argument, I suggest that the rule “To exist is to effect another existent thing.” as well as natural law in general, also cannot exist alone and so also are things before which God must exist;
“Now for the final step, what happens when we remove a part from this triad and make the system of the universe just a tad bit simpler? Nothing happens. Once a member of this triad is removed the two left behind are left with no way to fulfill the conditions sustaining mutual existence and so cease to be things altogether […] as I stated passingly earlier in the argument,the "abstract medium" of this triad, the medium which has just ceased to exist is natural law or logic itself. We wanted nothing and we got it [...]” -Myself
“So what happens now? If logic/natural law truly is that medium through which things happen and so must also be the governing force responsible for separating those things which may and those which may not happen, then shouldn't nothing... and everything happen? [Now that we have removed them to achieve “Nothing”] ” -Myself
Summary of My Argument:
What does this conglomerate of all possible and impossible things look like?
Jesus is good, Satan is bad, and Hitler was bad too. Vote pro!
I want to thank Pro for this debate.
3. If something does not effect another existent thing, then it does not exist. [P2] - This is invalid as I mentioned earlier.
Thank you for your competition Salam, it has been a pleasure! As ruled, I will waive this final round.
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