The Instigator
andrewkletzien
Pro (for)
Winning
16 Points
The Contender
Anti-atheist
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The Anselmian Ontological "Proof" of god's existence is flawed.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
andrewkletzien
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/10/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,872 times Debate No: 28039
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (18)
Votes (4)

 

andrewkletzien

Pro

Anselm of Canterbury was an 11th century Benedictine monk who held the esteemed position of the Bishop of Canterbury. He is considered the founder of scholasticism and is the originator of the ontological argument as well as the satisfaction theory of atonement. I will deal with the former in this debate. Anselm held in high esteem the law of non-contradiction, though his application of the law is debatable (thus, this debate!). He famously noted that theology was "faith seeking understanding," already displaying the level of internal bias that I note throughout. The ontological argument for god's existence is as follows:

1. God is the greatest thing of which we can conceive.
2. Everyone can understand or comprehend of god in this way.
3. Therefore, god exists in the understanding, even for "the fool."
4. It is greater to exist in reality than solely in the understanding.
5. Therefore, god (that which nothing greater than can be conceived) exists in reality.

I shall take my objection in parts consecutively with the above five-fold argument.

1. It is important to make a note of the difference between an atheist and an anti-theist in this matter. An atheist is someone who simply denies the validity of religious and metaphysical claims. An anti-theist holds this position, but also posits that the religious claims that have been used throughout the years have been not only inaccurate, but harmful either to the progress of our species as a whole or to individuals who have been convinced by these arguments. In this instance, I shall take on the part of an anti-theist and note that I must vehemently disagree with the premise. Whether or not this is agreed upon is not entirely relevant as the argument itself claims a universal conceptualization of god in a benevolent fashion. Anselm has set up a dialectic that assumes what an atheist, or "the fool," would claim to believe. For the following reasons (though, as pointed out, this need not be agreed upon to deem the argument wrong): the idea of an eternal supervisor is not one that I would label "great" in the normative sense. It is the essence of big brother, and closely resembles the political nature of North Korea. The theistic god is in a sense a divine North Korea, but at least one can die and leave North Korea. A being claimed to be the superlative in all characteristics is not only contradictory when applied to malevolent characteristics, but indeed something that I not only believe were not true, but that I am glad there is no evidence of. In this sense, the premise has been negated.

2. I will concede that it is at least possible for an atheist, or "a fool," to at least recognize an individual's claim to such a belief. However, once again, this is an argument that is meant to be thought of universally. To think otherwise would be to necessitate the labeling of the ontological argument as a proof of god's existence to only those who already believe in said deity. In this sense, an individualistic reading of this argument is an affirmation rather than an argument. To make this a debate of universal nature, as Anselm meant, one must recognize the inaccuracy of the first two assumptions.

3. I concede this point fully to Anselm. God does exist in the understanding. The brighter among us will easily see this as an irrelevant claim being that unicorns, tolls, ogres, and even the Flying Spaghetti Monster exist in our understanding. Within the context of religious pluralism, this point, and indeed the entirety of the ontological argument, can be used to justify existence of any deity (or any superlative). In that sense, Anselm could be said to be making an argument for Allah or Yahweh, which admittedly is the same as the Christian deity. The question at hand, however, is whether this argument can be said to be convincing to the unbeliever, or even to an individual who has never even heard of a claim of divinity. In short, I think most would agree that individual and subjective imagination has no bearing on objective reality.

4. This is the point at which the argument crumbles before our eyes. There are two ways to approach this: 1) one approach begs the question of why existence is "greater" than nonexistence; 2) another approach takes issue with existence being a characteristic in itself. The first seems to me vague and unanswerable at best. It is intrinsically tied with his premise instead of independently stemming from it in the sense that the existence of this being will be deemed greater by the individual who wishes the deity exist, but the nonexistence will be deemed greater by the individual who is glad that there is no evidence for his/her existence. This raises a question that I raised in my first debate, which is the appropriate level of simplicity and complexity. I argue that while simplicity is easy and convenient for our insufficient brains (marked by adrenal glands too large and pre-frontal lobes too small), complexity is ultimately the more accurate, or at least more reliable, approach.

I take this into more detail by outlining what I see as the relationship between two concepts that are of great importance to this debate: wish thinking and argumentation. The relationship between the two can be categorized as follows: an individual may argue A) Against something that he or she 1) wishes were true or 2) wishes weren't true; said individual may also argue B) For something that he or she 1) wishes were true or 2) wishes weren't true. Which approach (A1, A2, B1, B2) an individual partakes in does not necessarily point to validity or invalidity of the argument, but I think credibility and objectivity can be inferred. A1 & B2 should be thought of as at least slightly more objectively reliable, but also can be viewed as more complex for it is quite practical and easy (if you allow me to make a parallel between these two traits and simplicity overall). Admittedly, I am arguing with an A2 approach, but once again this question should be taken universally rather than individualistically, as it has been set forth as a "proof" (whether abstractly taken as empirical or theoretical) of a universal being from which all of us derive existence.

The second response dealing with the categorization of existence as a trait in and of itself stems from much of the same argument of simplicity and complexity. I argue that not everything can or should be categorized neatly into ontological or cosmological characteristics. As a more practical example, I assert that courage is not a virtue, but is instead a rightfully unclassified human characteristic (emotion, or ambition) that allows us to exercise the virtues. In the same way, I argue here that existence is not a characteristic in and of itself, but rather that which allows an object or conceptualization to hold real and observable (though not necessarily physical) characteristics. This applies indirectly to the argument from simplicity in that it is comfortable for us to categorize any descriptive adjective or other qualifying descriptor into proper categories, but I argue here that this is a premise which has no place in objective reality.

5. I have clearly expressed my opinion to the contrary of this facet. The agreement with (5) by any individual will ultimately be dependent on recognition of subjective imagination having no bearing on objective reality, or to the contrary.

The internal bias of this argument (thus negating the "proof" status of an argument for a deity from which we all collectively derive existence) can be seen in a famous quote of Anselm from Proslogion: "I do not seek to understand in order to believe; rather, I believe in order to understand. For I also believe this: that unless I believed, I would not understand." I propose in closing that he has done he opposite of rational argumentation by allowing the wish to become the father of the thought.
Anti-atheist

Con

Your objections do not fly as since it is possible for god to exist in 1 world he exists in al worlds

It can only work with a being not a spaghetti monster since it cannot be maximally great. The ontological arghment wins.
Debate Round No. 1
andrewkletzien

Pro

Despite my inclination towards believing your response and your profile entirely are meant as some form of humor, I will respond.

No one is debating that god is not possible. There is no way an atheist can prove god does not exist. However the possibility of something being true does not make it true much less probable. If you have read and comprehended adequately the proposed implications of the concept of unfalsifiability (which I am willing to admit I do not believe you have for a second), you would not respond with such neglect and ineptitude.

A FSM can be maximally great. You know how? I say he is. This is precisely the logic used by Anselm, and alas, you cannot prove it wrong. As quoted in a previous debate, once you understand why you don't believe in Zeus, Dionysus, Horus, Krishna, or any of the other thousands upon thousands of gods which have undoubtedly been created by man in his image (instead of the other way around), then you will understand why I do not believe in yours.

As a side note as well, you are quite welcome to declare your identity as an anti-atheist, but the methodology used by my opponent (while I admit I am inclined to say is rather satirical and ironic rather than of seriousness) is not flawed, not inaccurate, but simply and utterly inexistent.
Anti-atheist

Con

If god is possible than he exists. As the ontological argument shows. Only works with a being. A FSM is man made with physical features. So he cannot be the greatest maximal thing. As a fsm without pasta can be considered better. So your FSM argument fails as it's not logically coherent and cannot be necessarily true.
Debate Round No. 2
andrewkletzien

Pro

Imagine the perfect unicorn. The unicorn exists at least in the understanding, and if it is perfect, then it must exist.

The fact that FSM cannot be necessarily true is precisely the point. And your assumption that a FSM without pasta can be considered better shows why you must provide a logical prescription for what is better (see point 4 part 1, round 1).

And finally, a fact that is self-evident (unlike Anselm's deity) is that possibility does not correspond to necessary existence, unless of course you prove otherwise in correlation with your responsibility via BOP.

You must also show that subjective imagination (in correlation with superlatives) has an impact on objective reality.

You must also establish validity of the ontological to deem it a "proof." Note that not even evolution has been "proven," as creationists relentlessly point out despite clear misunderstandings of the differentiation between theories and hypotheses, so you must show how the ontological argument is worthy of "proof" status while the theory of evolution (which has near universal support from all credible scientists) remains a theory.

You must also, if you intend to legitimize your argument in correlation with the debate at hand, respond to the many points in my argument which you have either ignored, not read, or not understood.
Anti-atheist

Con

Unicorns are man made animal. So it cannot necessarily exist since it's a fathom of men. Same with the spaghetti monster. It's man made. So how do we know god is not man made?

Simple. We cannot think of something that doesn't exist. We can say "invisible pink unicorn" but pink exists, invisible exists(wind, empty space,ect,) and unicorn is a horse with a horn, both exists. Think of something like a new color. Something that doesn"t exist. You cannot. So God has to exists necessarily.

" you must show how the ontological argument is worthy of "proof" status while the theory of evolution (which has near universal support from all credible scientists) remains a theory."

Evolution is false. Scientists believe it because they want to hate god. These are the same scientists that came up with reletivity which is promoted by liberals that leads to moral reletvism. Then reletvism in general.
Ontological argument is proof since it shows how god must be necessarily be true if it's possible he exists.
Debate Round No. 3
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by andrewkletzien 4 years ago
andrewkletzien
Alvarezd41:

I find your rantings of stark similarity to how Margaret Singer described modern evangelization tactics:

"As soon as any interest is shown by the recruits, they may be love-bombed by the recruiter or other cult members. This process of feigning friendship and interest in the recruit was initially associated with one of the early youth cults, but soon it was taken up by a number of groups as part of their program for luring people in. Love-bombing is a coordinated effort, usually under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affectionate but usually nonsexual touching, and lots of attention to their every remark. Love-bombing -- or the offer of instant companionship -- is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives."

And yet, as Chris Hedges (a Christian himself) notes, "Rules are incorporated slowly and deliebrately into the convert's belief system. These include obedience to church leaders; the teaching of an exclusive, spiritual elitims that demonizes all other ways of being and believing; and persecution complex that keeps followers mobilized and distrustful of outsiders. The rules create a system of total submission to church doctrine."

Wherever you find that revelation from the divine is to be interpreted by a cleric, you will always find that you are soon being told what to do, what to eat, who to sleep with and in what position, what to read, and ultimately the most dangerous of all, what to think.
Posted by alvarezd41 4 years ago
alvarezd41
Hi everyone,
I would like to give you hope and tell you what I have been revealed by our creator. 1st let me start by saying that we are our creator's most treasured and beloved creation. We are all extremely valuable and we all hold the knowledge of creation inside each and everyone of us.

God is inside everyone of us. We are all eternal beings, this means we have always been and will always be. When in doubt look inside of you and you will find the truth. It has always been there. Our true self exist beyond this existence. If you truly want to know god all you have to do is remember and let the truth come out and embrace your true self for we already know god and have always known him.

Don't get caught on the lies of this materialistic world.

We are already closer to our creator than anything else in existence but we must learn to look inside and trust for he exist within you.

Peace and love be with you my eternal brothers. I truly love you all.

We are all connected.
Posted by Anti-atheist 4 years ago
Anti-atheist
wtf are you talking about andre
Posted by andrewkletzien 4 years ago
andrewkletzien
I must ask if anti-atheist is a Poe operating strictly under Poe's law.
Posted by Anti-atheist 4 years ago
Anti-atheist
conservapedia is a great education resource
Posted by iamnotwhoiam 4 years ago
iamnotwhoiam
"These are the same scientists that came up with reletivity which is promoted by liberals that leads to moral reletvism."

Someone's been reading Conservapedia.
Posted by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
Plantinga's version avoids the problem of treating existence as if it were a property, but his version creates a new problem. There's another version by Robert Maydole, published in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology that I hear tell has some promise, although i haven't read it myself. I'm skeptical that any ontological argument can be sound, though, because they all basically attempt to define God into existence, which I don't think is possible.
Posted by Jarhyn 4 years ago
Jarhyn
Assuming the truth of A and then saying A is what we call begging the question. To add existence to the list of qualities of some hypothetical A is nothing more than assuming A.

This fact is borne out by the fact that even after imagining some perfect *, and imagining that perfection requires the reality of that perfect *, that there is still not that perfect * doing perfect things to me right now.

Though kudos to the guy that first came up with such a way of hiding the fallacy so creatively. It took me a long time to figure that one out.

A = A AND B AND C IFF A = B AND C.
Posted by andrewkletzien 4 years ago
andrewkletzien
I am not thoroughly familiar with Plantiga's version. I will look into it with more depth.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by THEBOMB 4 years ago
THEBOMB
andrewkletzienAnti-atheistTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Well...Pro won since Con barely even argued.
Vote Placed by iamnotwhoiam 4 years ago
iamnotwhoiam
andrewkletzienAnti-atheistTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con makes scant effort to refute pro's case. Con's argument that we cannot think of something that doesn't exist doesn't convince me that fairies, ghosts, vampires, golems, the soul, phlogiston, the aether, or god exist. Con's spelling is poor.
Vote Placed by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
andrewkletzienAnti-atheistTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's opening was wordier than it needed to be. Con's opening wasn't wordy enough. Arguments obviously go to Pro because Con neglected to respond to most of Pro's arguments.
Vote Placed by Microsuck 4 years ago
Microsuck
andrewkletzienAnti-atheistTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Easy win for Pro. Conduct because con is obviously trolling and didn't even attempt to make a rational discussion; grammar because con was terrible on spelling/grammar. Pro demoished the OA and con's attempts at refuting pro's arguments were insufficent, and strawman.