The Instigator
larztheloser
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points
The Contender
Illegalcombatant
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

That the Descartes Ontological argument is sound

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/16/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,432 times Debate No: 15979
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (40)
Votes (2)

 

larztheloser

Pro

For some reason my opponent feels the need to argue the ontological argument with me - again! Here is his second chance.

"God" is a perfect entity. My burden of proof is to show that this perfect entity really exists, using the Descartes ontological argument. My opponent needs to show that the Descartes ontological argument does not prove this.

The argument itself is as follows.
P1: It is impossible to be perfect and not exist
C: Therefore such a being must exist


This is taken from Descartes' fifth meditation: "Because I cannot conceive God unless as existing, it follows that existence is inseparable from him, and therefore that he really exists: not that this is brought about by my thought, or that it imposes any necessity on things, but, on the contrary, the necessity which lies in the thing itself, that is, the necessity of the existence of God, determines me to think in this way: for it is not in my power to conceive a God without existence, that is, a being supremely perfect, and yet devoid of an absolute perfection, as I am free to imagine a horse with or without wings."

I look forward to hearing what objections my opponent has this time around.
Illegalcombatant

Con

I thank Pro for the opportunity to show that their argument is logically fallacious...........again :)

Pro says "P1: It is impossible to be perfect and not exist"

But what exactly does this premise show ? does it show that something perfect ACTUALLY exists ? of course not, the truth of this premise only shows that IF something is actually perfect then it would actually exist, and that's a pretty big IF.

Maybe Pro can explain to us why he thinks that the possibility of perfection existing means that perfection ACTUALLY exists. As Pro concludes "C: Therefore such a being must exist". Surely Pro isn't suggesting that possibility = actuality ?

1) If it is possible for X to exist, then its possible for X not to exist
2) It is possible for perfection to exist
3) Therefore it is possible for perfection not to exist

I look forward to Pros reply.
Debate Round No. 1
larztheloser

Pro

I'd like to thank my opponent for opening his case. His single objection I deal with in detail below.

In his first premise, my opponent states that if it is possible something exists, it is possible that something does not exist. If I have a pen it is certain (and therefore possible) that the pen exists. Anything certain to exist, obviously, is impossible to not exist. But let us assume that nothing is certain to exist - a sort of agnostic nihilism. Thus it follows that nothing has true meaning, for all meaning cannot be certain when we do not know it exists. However, this is absurd because my opponent's premise is itself a form of meaning. Therefore my opponent's first premise is self-defeating.

So how do we know that something perfect exists with certainty? Well, there is a dichotomy here: either God (aka something perfect) is a thought object, or God really exists. However, as my argument shows, God is not perfect if God is just a thought object. By postulating God, you postulate perfection, and thus existence.

How does the postulation of existence mean that God really exists? There are two kinds of beliefs: true and untrue. To work out which beliefs are correct, one must see if the alternative can be excluded. Descartes himself gives the example of coming across a body of water and determining that it's a bay. This is not a true belief, however, because upon circumnavigation the "bay" it may, in fact, turn out to be a lake. Thus we cannot say it is a bay because our experience logically contradicts our hypothesis. In our present case, the alternative is the non-existence of God. Let us assume it were true that God did not actually exist. If God did not actually exist, it should be possible to say God does not exist without committing a logical contradiction. However, as the Descartes argument shows, there is a contradiction between something we have postulated as perfect and non-existent. Therefore this position is untenable. Since we have ruled out the alternative, we know it is really true.

I hope this answers some of my opponent's problems with the Descartes argument, and I look forward to hearing what he brings up next. I would like to ask that my opponent brings up all his points in this round (even if he doesn't elaborate too much on them all) because this is the last round that I can respond to.
Illegalcombatant

Con

I thank Pro for their response.

Pro says "So how do we know that something perfect exists with certainty? Well, there is a dichotomy here: either God (aka something perfect) is a thought object, or God really exists. However, as my argument shows, God is not perfect if God is just a thought object. By postulating God, you postulate perfection, and thus existence."

Okey either......

1) God/perfection exists only as a thought object
2) God/perfection exists as a thought object and actuality

Now pretty much anything can exist as a thought object......flying invisible time travelling gremlins anyone ?

But of course we can't assume that God/Perfection actually exists in order to prove that it exists.

Pro goes onto say "In our present case, the alternative is the non-existence of God. Let us assume it were true that God did not actually exist. If God did not actually exist, it should be possible to say God does not exist without committing a logical contradiction."

Okey Pro, allow me too say....God/perfection does not exist..........looks like I just said it without any contradiction eh ?

Pro says "However, as the Descartes argument shows, there is a contradiction between something we have postulated as perfect and non-existent."

Its only a contradiction because you ASSUME that perfection/God exists in the first place.

Now consider this argument that does NOT assume that perfection/God exists

1) God/perfection may or may not actually exist
2) We should not assume that God/Perfection exist
3) It is claimed that God/perfection may not exist
4) Thus there is no contradiction between 1) & 3)

Now compare that to this argument that ASSUMES that perfection/God exists.........

1) Assume perfection/God exists
2) It is claimed that God/perfection may not exist or
2b) It is claimed that God/perfection does not exist
3) Premise 2) and 2b) contradicts premise 1
4) Therefore God exists

This is clearly logically fallacious as you have assumed God/perfection exists, in order to prove that God/perfection does exist.

As far as the contradiction goes......just stop ASSUMING that God/Perfection exists in the first place and the contradiction disappears.

I look forward to Pros reply.
Debate Round No. 2
larztheloser

Pro

I'd like to thank my opponent for continuing his case. I'm going to do something very drastic. I'm going to start by assuming that god/perfection DOES NOT EXIST.

1. G does not have EX


Now step two is the one my opponent is having some trouble with. I personally believe the invisible pink unicorn does not exist. That does not mean the invisible pink unicorn is not invisible, nor does it mean it is not pink, nor does it mean it is not a unicorn - it simply means it does not exist. Here is step 2 (I'm going to do some more justifications in a second):

2. God has P

This is NOT the same as presupposing God. It is simply saying what it is I am describing as being non-existent - a perfect entity. I continue to assume that the entity is non-existent even as I have ascribed a quality to it. My opponent's criticism here is akin to saying the apple I wish I had right now is not red because it doesn't presently exist. existence is no predicate for quality.

I am presupposing that the word "God" means "a perfect entity." Having said that, however, even as my opponent argues against my "presupposition" of the existence of perfection (which is untrue - what I do is suppose the non-existence of a perfect entity, which is very different), he in fact accepts that God is a (non-existent) perfect entity. For example, he says "God/perfection" rather than "God."

Even if he did not do this, however, the definition is not in and of itself illegitimate because it is not a tautology - logic is required to connect it to the first premise.

3. Everything with P must EX

For a detailed discussion of this point, see my last argument with my opponent.

4. Therefore, God cannot have P and EX

5. We know for certain God has P but not EX


My opponent has practically conceded that God is perfect (because that's the definition of God - a perfect entity), but not existent. However, he also says that God may or may not exist. Therefore, since only one of the two premises can be true...

6. Therefore God has P and EX

Because the alternative conclusion is invalid. Note that at no stage in this argument did I presuppose the existence of either God or perfection.

We can test this case, as I described last round, by using Descartes' method of alternative-exclusion. My opponent claims he can say God [a perfect entity] does not exist without perfection and existence being mutually exclusive. However, since it is impossible for the sentence to be logically true, it must be logically fallacious. The sentance is impossible to be logically true because it is impossible for a perfect entity to not exist.

Let us contrast my six steps with my opponent's five steps he claims I use:

1. G does not have EX; vs
----------------------------------------------------------
1. Assume perfection/God exists


As you can see, my opponent is wrong from the very start. He starts with a claim that is logically opposite - his assumes God exists, mine assumes God does not. So clearly he has not understood the very beginning of the Descartes argument.

2. God has P
3. Everything with P must EX
4. Therefore, God cannot have P and EX
5. We know for certain God has P but not EX; vs
----------------------------------------------------------
2. It is claimed that God/perfection may not exist
3. Premise 2 contradicts premise 1


As you can see, my opponent misrepresents my contradiction. My contradiction is not a claim of existence against a claim of non-existence, but rather a claim of perfection against non-existence.

Now, for once, I'm going to stop looking forward and start looking back. My burden of proof in this debate has been to answer con's objections to the Descartes ontological. I don't think I have merely answered ... I have annihilated. Two objections have been raised by my opponent. The first (round 1) was that an idea cannot impress actuality. By using the method of alternative-exclusion, I demonstrated exactly how an idea can be said to be actually true even though it is just an idea. My opponent's second line of attack was to rephrase my argument to try to show that I had presupposed God. Just moments ago, I showed that his paraphrasing was inaccurate and indeed the very opposite of what I was arguing. I walked you through exactly what I assume and what I do not. Certainly the conclusion was never assumed in any way.

I hope my opponent does not do what he did last time and bring up totally new lines of attack in the last round. I urge voters to read all the arguments carefully and decide whether I have responded to all of my opponent's (two) arguments. And if so then please vote for pro.
Illegalcombatant

Con

I thank Pro for their response.

Pro says "My opponent's criticism here is akin to saying the apple I wish I had right now is not red because it doesn't presently exist. existence is no predicate for quality."

Yes Pro, if something doesn't exist, it doesn't have color, just like a non existent God doesn't have the quality of perfection.

The concept of a red apple in your hand is very different to an actual red apple in your hand.
The concept of God with the "quality" perfect, is very different to an actual God with the an actual "quality" perfect.

Pro says "3. Everything with P must EX" & "For a detailed discussion of this point, see my last argument with my opponent."

Well lets go over that last argument shall we ?

Pro says "So how do we know that something perfect exists with certainty? Well, there is a dichotomy here: either God (aka something perfect) is a thought object, or God really exists. However, as my argument shows, God is not perfect if God is just a thought object. By postulating God, you postulate perfection, and thus existence."

1) God is not perfect if God is a thought object
2) God is perfect
3) Therefore God exists

This assumes that perfection exists in the first place, I remind Pro that the CONCEPT of perfection does NOT prove that perfection ACTUALLY exists.

Now Pro tries to justify that perfection exists and says "How does the postulation of existence mean that God really exists? There are two kinds of beliefs: true and untrue"

1) Perfection only exists as a concept (in the mind)
2) Perfection exists in actuality

Pro goes onto say "Let us assume it were true that God did not actually exist. If God did not actually exist, it should be possible to say God does not exist without committing a logical contradiction."

As I said before "God does not exist" I also said "Perfection does not actually exist" I have also said "Perfection exists as a concept and not in actuality'

There is no contradiction here, cause unlike Pro I have not assumed that Perfection actually exists in the first place.

Pro says "However, as the Descartes argument shows, there is a contradiction between something we have postulated as perfect and non-existent."

Well lets look at Descartes argument shall we ?

Descartes says "Because I cannot conceive God unless as existing, it follows that existence is inseparable from him, and therefore that he really exists:" & "for it is not in my power to conceive a God without existence, that is, a being supremely perfect,"

Descartes lack of imagination isn't a proof that their concept of perfection and/or God corresponds with actual existence.

This ontological argument has being one big circle jerk.

I ask a vote for the Con

I thank Pro for instigating this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
40 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
larztheloser
@Illegalcombatant - LOL, we're going to be at this for a while! (:
Posted by Illegalcombatant 5 years ago
Illegalcombatant
Larz says "I've said this before in another debate, but I am an atheist because of the omnipotence paradox."

Oh cool, I reject that God is contradictory so that gives us something else we can debate on :)
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
larztheloser
No problem!
Posted by wizkid345 5 years ago
wizkid345
thank you larze for your advice and opinion, i must admit my way of putting it isn't very good. I to am an atheist, please excuse my grammer I am only 14 and my grammer is not up to standords. I have enjoyed the debate and hope to sea you soon
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
larztheloser
So why do you presuppose that God needs us? Indeed, why do you suppose you know anything about what God knows? I don't think God can be said to be "lonely" (and as a result, changing) or "need us." My simple answer to your question therefore is we don't know if God needs us or not, but we know that there are no good explanations for why it would, so it isn't safe to make that claim. That in itself does not make the attribute of perfection any less plausible.

I've said this before in another debate, but I am an atheist because of the omnipotence paradox. So I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong, I'm just saying your way of putting it isn't very good. This debate was about the Descartes argument, though, and my opponent attacked the argument instead of the conclusion. I think attacking the argument is more logically correct but attacking the conclusion, as you are doing, will always be a stronger argument. Try not to ascribe a motivation to God, that gets problematic.
Posted by wizkid345 5 years ago
wizkid345
how about this. The meaning of perfect is to be complete in every way wich leads to the question
Why would god nead us?
I have had lots of people try to answer this question and the most logical answer was
He was lonely.
Now if god is perfect (complete in every way) he would not be lonely wouldnt you agrea
If you could explain to me with proof the reason why god would nead it may seam posible that a perfect being or thing is out there
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
larztheloser
So you're just basically explaining the omnipotence paradox I hinted at earlier? Your exact way of phrasing it is a little strange because you assume there is never any value in conflict, which difficult to rationalize. An easier form of the argument might be to simply say God cannot do the impossible - for instance, if I may quote Homer Simpson, God cannot microwave a burrito so hot that He himself cannot eat it. There are several ways of answering it, but I'm not convinced by any of them personally.
Posted by wizkid345 5 years ago
wizkid345
for one to be perfect one must be able to get along with everyone, a perfect person would not disagree with someone because then it would be creating conflict. Conflict is something concidered to be inperfect as were peace and harmony is considered perfect. What im saying is perfection is simply a delusion and can not be acomplished
Posted by larztheloser 5 years ago
larztheloser
@wizkid345 - could you explain the logic behind why it must agree with everything? I would think it would only agree with the RIGHT thing.
Posted by wizkid345 5 years ago
wizkid345
if there is a perfect form out there logicly it must agree with every one and thing. what im saying is that this thing agreas with both a tree and a logger. or a pacifest and a murderer
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by DylanAsdale 5 years ago
DylanAsdale
larztheloserIllegalcombatantTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision:
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
larztheloserIllegalcombatantTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: "I remind Pro that the CONCEPT of perfection does NOT prove that perfection ACTUALLY exists." - con, the entire point of the argument is that if it does not exist then it is not perfect, if it is perfect then it has to, by definition, exist