The Instigator
His_Majesty
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points
The Contender
Burncastle
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The Ontological Argument

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
His_Majesty
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/4/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 437 times Debate No: 62643
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)

 

His_Majesty

Pro

This argument is used very little amongst Christians who defend the faith, and I see why, as it seems like very abstract reasoning. But despite this, I think it is a very convincing argument once you think about it. This argument makes a case that a God must exist based on there mere concept of what it means to be "God". The argument has a rich history and many versions, but I like the Alvin Plantaga's version of it, which I will use with my own little twist.

The argument is as follows;

1. God, by definition, is a maximally great being that exists necessarily. (By "great", it is meant that God has certain attributes as omnipotence, omniscience, ominpresence, and omnibenevolence).

2. It is possible for a maximally great being to exist in some possible world.

3. If it is possible for a maximally great being to exist in some world, it is possible for a maximally great being to exist in this world.

4. If it is possible for a maximally great being to exist in this world, then a maximally great being must exist in this world.

5. Therefore, God exists.

Explanation of #1: The word "great" here is used to define a "quality" of existence. Those attributes are "great making" qualities. So to have maximally great knowledge is to know EVERYTHING (omniscience). To have a maximally great presence is to be EVERYWHERE at one time (omnipresence). To have maximally great power is to be able to do ANYTHING that is logically possible (omnipotence). And to be a maximally great benevolent person is to be the ultimate source for what it means to have a good moral character (omnibenovelent). In the first sentence of #1, God exists necessarily, meaning that if God exists, it is impossible for him to cease existing.

Explanation of #2: Simply means that we can imagine a world at which a maximally great being could exist. If such a being "could" exist, then its a least possible for it to exist.

Explanation of #3: If a maximally great being could exist in a world that we don't know about, then that same maximally great being would have to exist in THIS world. Because remember, to be a maximally great being is to be omnipresent, so if a maximally great being is present in another world, this same being would also have to be present in this world. If a maximally great being does not exist in this world, then this being was never maximally great, because if it was, there would be no limitations to where it could be present. So a maximally great being would have to exist in this world if it was possible that it could exist in another world.

Explanation of #4: We can all admit that it is at least possible for a maximally great being to exist in another possible world. So if it exists in another possible world, it would have to exist in this world. If it is possible for a maximally great being to exist in this world, then a maximally great being DOES exist in this world. Remember, the existence of a maximally great being would be a NECESSARY truth, meaning that it would be impossible for this being to NOT exist in ANY world. But it cant be impossible, because we already know that it IS possible for a maximally great being to exist in any possible world. As long as this is even POSSIBLE, it must be true, because all necessary truths MUST in fact be TRUE.

Now in order for Con to dismantle this argument, Con must explain why the existence of a Supreme Being is impossible...why the concept of such a being is logically absurd, and I don't think anyone can do this.
Burncastle

Con

I thank my opponent for challenging me to this debate and I hope I will be a good challenge to him. I will start by addressing his intro and conclusion and then move on to his actual argument. Let's begin.

"This argument is used very little amongst Christians who defend the faith, and I see why, as it seems like very abstract reasoning. But despite this, I think it is a very convincing argument once you think about it." I completely disagree with that. True, I am an atheist so I obviously believe that NONE of the arguments for the existence of God are convincing, but to me, this one sticks out as particularly unconvincing. Probably because, to my knowledge, no one has ever been convinced by it.

"Now in order for Con to dismantle this argument, Con must explain why the existence of a Supreme Being is impossible..." No, absolutely not. This is a very weird burden of proof to put on me. The only thing I have to do to dismantle the argument is to demonstrate that it is either unsound (the premises are not all true) or invalid.

"why the concept of such a being is logically absurd, and I don't think anyone can do this." This I will try to do.


Now on to the argument.


"1. God, by definition, is a maximally great being that exists necessarily" Saying that God is a being that exists necessarily is assuming the conclusion, which is a form of circular reasoning. It is basically saying "since God exists necessarily, then God exists". With this premiss, I do not see the use of anything else.

"By "great", it is meant that God has certain attributes as omnipotence, omniscience, ominpresence, and omnibenevolence" This definition of God (assuming that omnipotence is only limited by logic) is completely defeated by the problem of evil. Freewill does not solve the issue by the way.

I will wait for the explanation of 2, 3 and 4 before addressing them.

"5. Therefore, God exists." There is a big problem with the conclusion. Saying that Item X has attribute Y only means: "if X exists, then it is Y". Considering this, the conclusion becomes: "If God exists, then God exists", which is a useless tautology.

"Explanation of #1: The word "great" here is used to define a "quality" of existence. Those attributes are "great making" qualities. So to have maximally great knowledge is to know EVERYTHING (omniscience). To have a maximally great presence is to be EVERYWHERE at one time (omnipresence). To have maximally great power is to be able to do ANYTHING that is logically possible (omnipotence)." I agree that omniscience and omnipotence are the pinnacle of greatness, and I will also grant omnipresence for the sake of argument.

"And to be a maximally great benevolent person is to be the ultimate source for what it means to have a good moral character (omnibenovelent)." While I agree that omnibenevolence is the pinnacle of greatness (when we are considering conscious beings), I have a bit of trouble imagining how it is possible to be objectively moral. Depending on your definition of morality, objective morality may not actually exist.

But the problem with greatness is that it is not limited by the four omnis, it can imply a whole lot of other things which would actually "prove" that this particular God does not exist, such as:

1) A maximally great being would save JFK
2) JFK was not saved
3) A maximally great being does not exist

1) A maximally great being would make his existence apparent
2) His existence is not apparent
3) This maximally great being does not exist

Anyone can think up many of these examples.

"Explanation of #2: Simply means that we can imagine a world at which a maximally great being could exist. If such a being "could" exist, then its a least possible for it to exist." In a world where there is no evil, I would probably agree.

"Explanation of #3: If a maximally great being could exist in a world that we don't know about, then that same maximally great being would have to exist in THIS world. Because remember, to be a maximally great being is to be omnipresent, so if a maximally great being is present in another world, this same being would also have to be present in this world. If a maximally great being does not exist in this world, then this being was never maximally great, because if it was, there would be no limitations to where it could be present." I'll grant that for now.

"So a maximally great being would have to exist in this world if it was possible that it could exist in another world.
" No. The fact that it is POSSIBLE for this being to exist in some possible does not mean that it actually DOES exist in some possible and therefore it does NOT have to exist in our world. The second premiss of this modus ponen is lacking:

Normally, we have:
1) If A, then B
2) A
3) Therefore B

But my opponent presented:
1)If A, then B
2) Therefore B

This is invalid.

"Explanation of #4: We can all admit that it is at least possible for a maximally great being to exist in another possible world. So if it exists in another possible world, it would have to exist in this world." Yes, I will grant that IF it exists in some possible worlds, then it exists in this world.

"If it is possible for a maximally great being to exist in this world, then a maximally great being DOES exist in this world." Absolutely not. Possibility does not imply actuality. Moreover, I have yet to be convinced that existence is an attribute of greatness. One could argue that it is greater for something to transcend reality, therefore not being a part of reality (therefore not actually being real).

"Remember, the existence of a maximally great being would be a NECESSARY truth, meaning that it would be impossible for this being to NOT exist in ANY world." I reject that outright. This is simply a semantic trick that tries to define God as something that exists. Using the same trick, I could define the realicorn as "a unicorn that actually exists". Would realicorns then really exist? Obviously not.

I await my opponent's responses.
Debate Round No. 1
His_Majesty

Pro

I'd like to thank Con for his acceptance of this debate. Did he offer sound refutations of the argument? I don't think so. Please note that everything in bold is a quote from Con, and immediately below is my response to the quote.

"True, I am an atheist so I obviously believe that NONE of the arguments for the existence of God are convincing, but to me, this one sticks out as particularly unconvincing. Probably because, to my knowledge, no one has ever been convinced by it." No one has ever been convinced by it?

Well, lets see, Christian defender William Lane Craig has been convinced by it, so much so that he's used the argument in his debates and also spoke of it in his books. Christian defender Alvin Plantiga is also convinced by it, and it is his version of the argument which we are discussing here. Finally, I, myself, is convinced by it. Not to mention the many different versions of the argument that has been floating around since 9th century philosopher St. Anselm originated the argument. So in other words, many people have been convinced by it in the past, and even today.

"No, absolutely not. This is a very weird burden of proof to put on me. The only thing I have to do to dismantle the argument is to demonstrate that it is either unsound (the premises are not all true) or invalid."

Con is objecting to my "burden of proof", as I stated that in order for him to dismantle the argument, he must explain why the existence of a Supreme Being is impossible. He said "the only thing he has to do is demonstrate that the premises are unsound/invalid."

Well, I'd like to remind Con that one of the premises of the argument (P2) is that the existence of a Supreme Being is possible. That is one of the premises, so if he attacks that premise, then he is in fact doing exactly what I said he must do, which is demonstrate why the existence of a Supreme Being is not possible.

"Saying that God is a being that exists necessarily is assuming the conclusion, which is a form of circular reasoning." Not at all. I am merely defining God, and it just so happens that "necessary existence" is part of the essence of God's being. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of God is: the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe.


In order to "create and rule" the universe, one would have to exist necessarily. So I will ask Con, is Webster dictionary also using a form of circular reasoning as it defineds God?

"It is basically saying "since God exists necessarily, then God exists". With this premiss, I do not see the use of anything else."

Again, not at all. The argument starts off by defining God, and then it gives reasons why such a being's existence, as defined, is possible.

"This definition of God (assuming that omnipotence is only limited by logic) is completely defeated by the problem of evil. Freewill does not solve the issue by the way."

The problem of evil? In order to use the problem of evil for anything, Con would have to assume an objective standard by which one can judge or determine what is considered "good", or "evil". On atheism, I just don't see where such a standard could come from, especially given moral relativism (descriptive).

"There is a big problem with the conclusion. Saying that Item X has attribute Y only means: "if X exists, then it is Y". Considering this, the conclusion becomes: "If God exists, then God exists", which is a useless tautology"


I don't understand what Con is talking about here. He quoted me as saying "Therefore, God exists", and I am unable to correlate what he said based upon what he quoted me as saying.


"While I agree that omnibenevolence is the pinnacle of greatness (when we are considering conscious beings), I have a bit of trouble imagining how it is possible to be objectively moral. Depending on your definition of morality, objective morality may not actually exist."

Now this is interesting. You (I will drop the "Con" stuff) just stated that you have trouble imagining how it is possible to be objectively moral, yet you previously used the problem of evil in your rebuttal? If there is no objective standard, then there can be no objective problem of evil. At best you are left with moral relativism...everything becomes subjective.

"But the problem with greatness is that it is not limited by the four omnis, it can imply a whole lot of other things which would actually "prove" that this particular God does not exist, such as:

1) A maximally great being would save JFK
2) JFK was not saved
3) A maximally great being does not exist"

For this, I will appeal to what can be called "morally sufficient reason(s)". Assuming that God exists, he may have morally sufficient reasons to allow JFK to be killed, and as long as this is even possible, all of God's acts (or failure to act) may be justified.

1) A maximally great being would make his existence apparent
2) His existence is not apparent
3) This maximally great being does not exist

This is completely subjective. God's existence may not be apparent to you, but it is apparent to me.


"In a world where there is no evil, I would probably agree."

But you said earlier "I have a bit of trouble imagining how it is possible to be objectively moral."


"No. The fact that it is POSSIBLE for this being to exist in some possible does not mean that it actually DOES exist in some possible and therefore it does NOT have to exist in our world."

We are talking about necessary truths here. Necessary truths are truths that are true in ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS. 1+1 cannot equal 2 in our world, but 5 in another world. Mathematical truths are necessary truths which are true in all possible worlds, in all possible circumstances. So if God's existence is necessary, it has to be necessary in all possible worlds. So as I said in my explanation of 3 (which you granted) if it is possible for a MGB to exist in another possible world besides our own, then this being would have to exist in our world, since our world is one of the "possible" worlds.


The second premiss of this modus ponen is lacking:


Normally, we have:
1) If A, then B
2) A
3) Therefore B

But my opponent presented:
1)If A, then B
2) Therefore B"



Lets look at what my opponent said:

Normally, we have:
1) If A, then B
2) A
3) Therefore B

That kind of looks like my argument

1.) If God's existence is possible, then God exist
2.) God's existence is possible
3.) Therefore, God exists

Its the same thing, basically. The only thing left out of the equation in this shorter version is the possible world semantics, but essentially, this is the argument once you take away the fluff and the feathers. Contrary to what my opponent thinks, he has given us no reason why the existence of God isn't possible, and I don't think he can, so I am inclined to believe that the argument is valid.


"Absolutely not. Possibility does not imply actuality."

Yes it does, when we are talking about necessary truths. If something is possibly necessarily true, then it must be actually true. There is no such thing as a proposition that is possibily necessarily true, but actually false. If it is actually false, then it was never possibly necessarily true!!! That is the point; If God's existence is possible, then it must be actual.


"Moreover, I have yet to be convinced that existence is an attribute of greatness. One could argue that it is greater for something to transcend reality, therefore not being a part of reality (therefore not actually being real)."

If something isn't real, then it doesn't exist!!! How can something that doesn't exist transcend anything, let alone be great?

"I reject that outright. This is simply a semantic trick that tries to define God as something that exists. Using the same trick, I could define the realicorn as "a unicorn that actually exists". Would realicorns then really exist? Obviously not."

My response to this is simple. If you define this "realicorn" with every attribute that I've defined God as..then the being that you are call "realicorn" is actually another word for..."God".

The argumenet is not meant to tell us how such a being looks, and how it manifests itself, etc. It just makes a case that such a being exists.


Burncastle

Con

I thank my opponent for his response.

(I'll drop the "Pro" stuff as well)

I would first like to address this "convincing" issue, because I think I haven't been clear enough. When I said that I have never seen anyone being convinced by this argument, I should have added "anyone WHO DOES NOT ALREADY BELIEVE IN THE CONCLUSION"; I was using "convinced" in the sense of "that which changed my mind" (and I do not know anyone who became a theist because of this argument). I would also like to point out that I was not presenting this as an actual argument; I am fully aware that the argument COULD be valid and sound even if no one found it convincing.

"Con is objecting to my "burden of proof", as I stated that in order for him to dismantle the argument, he must explain why the existence of a Supreme Being is impossible. He said "the only thing he has to do is demonstrate that the premises are unsound/invalid."" I stand by my position.

"Well, I'd like to remind Con that one of the premises of the argument (P2) is that the existence of a Supreme Being is possible. That is one of the premises, so if he attacks that premise, then he is in fact doing exactly what I said he must do, which is demonstrate why the existence of a Supreme Being is not possible." Not only have I NOT attacked this premise, I have actually agreed with it. I do believe that it is POSSIBLE for a MGB to exist in some possible world.

"I am merely defining God, and it just so happens that "necessary existence" is part of the essence of God's being. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of God is:the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe." No, it just so happens that YOU ARE DEFINING God as having necessary existence, which is the semantic trick that I accused you of doing in my past round. Moreover, the dictionary definition that you give does NOT include necessary existence.

"In order to "create and rule" the universe, one would have to exist necessarily. So I will ask Con, is Webster dictionary also using a form of circular reasoning as it defineds God?" Yes, IF a God actually created the rules of the universe then God would have to exist. But you don't simply get to assert that he IN FACT created the rules of the universe. The dictionary is simply stating what these various religion BELIEVES, not what is actually true.

"The argument starts off by defining God, and then it gives reasons why such a being's existence, as defined, is possible." What is the point of arguing for "possibility" when your first premise already claims "necessity"? You said yourself that necessity makes possibility irrelevant ("If something is possibly necessarily true, then it must be actually true.") So, given that fact, the argument basically becomes:

1) God exists necessarily
2) Therefore God exists

If this is not a semantic trick and circular reasoning, then I do not know what it is.

"The problem of evil? In order to use the problem of evil for anything, Con would have to assume an objective standard by which one can judge or determine what is considered "good", or "evil"." Setting aside this idea that "atheism can't account for objective morality" (because I actually think that it can), the point of the problem of evil is that one can not RECONCILE evil and suffering with an omnibenevolent God. According to most theists, if God does exist, then objective morality DO exist and the problem of evil actually becomes a problem for them.

"There is a big problem with the conclusion. Saying that Item X has attribute Y only means: "if X exists, then it is Y". Considering this, the conclusion becomes: "If God exists, then God exists", which is a useless tautology" (This is a quote from my own first round) What I meant by that is when you define something with a certain characteristic, then this particular thing ONLY has this particular characteristic IF IT EXISTS. For example, a rock is only made of atoms if it exists. This is why attributing "existence" as a characteristic is circular reasoning.

"Now this is interesting. You (I will drop the "Con" stuff) just stated that you have trouble imagining how it is possible to be objectively moral, yet you previously used the problem of evil in your rebuttal?" My view on the objectivity of morality is irrelevant to the problem of evil for reasons I have stated previously.

"For this, I will appeal to what can be called "morally sufficient reason(s)". Assuming that God exists, he may have morally sufficient reasons to allow JFK to be killed, and as long as this is even possible, all of God's acts (or failure to act) may be justified." By virtue of being omnipotent (limited only by logic, I really hate the "rock that god can't lift" argument), it is therefore possible for God to accomplish whatever goal he has WITHOUT having JFK killed, unless the assassination IS IN FACT his goal (but then benevolence goes right out the window).

"This is completely subjective. God's existence may not be apparent to you, but it is apparent to me." Ok, I'll let this slide because I do not want to turn this debate in a debate about intelligent design.

"Necessary truths are truths that are true in ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS." I would tend to agree, although I would also point out that there is no way to be ABSOLUTELY certain about that. Even mathematicians tend to agree that there is no ultimate way to prove that math is ALWAYS true.

"So if God's existence is necessary, it has to be necessary in all possible worlds. So as I said in my explanation of 3 (which you granted) if it is possible for a MGB to exist in another possible world besides our own, then this being would have to exist in our world, since our world is one of the "possible" worlds." The important part here is: IF God's existence is necessary. If God's existence is necessary, then I agree.

My objection about the bad modus ponen was based on a misunderstanding on my part of my opponent's point.

"Yes it does, when we are talking about necessary truths. If something is possibly necessarily true, then it must be actually true." If something is necessarily true, then discussing "possibility" is completely useless; something is EITHER impossible, possible or necessary. This is true UNLESS you are clearly defining the "necessity" as possible and NOT the "truth". In this case, the question remains: what is your justification to claim that God necessarily exist?

"If something isn't real, then it doesn't exist!!! How can something that doesn't exist transcend anything, let alone be great?" That was exactly my point, I was simly giving an exemple of how greatness can imply non-existence. But more importantly, you missed the first part of the quote; what is your justification to claim that existence is a necessary component of greatness? This goes back to my point in the beginning where I said that something only has a certain characteristic when that thing actually exists.

"My response to this is simple. If you define this "realicorn" with every attribute that I've defined God as..then the being that you are call "realicorn" is actually another word for..."God". " No, my realicorns are not omnipotent nor omniscient, and they are pink. So, do they exist? Remember, they are defined as "unicorns that actually exist". While this may seem like a silly parody, I believe that is adequately illustrates the silliness of defining something into existence.
Debate Round No. 2
His_Majesty

Pro

I would first like to address this "convincing" issue, because I think I haven't been clear enough. When I said that I have never seen anyone being convinced by this argument, I should have added "anyone WHO DOES NOT ALREADY BELIEVE IN THE CONCLUSION"; I was using "convinced" in the sense of "that which changed my mind" (and I do not know anyone who became a theist because of this argument). I am fully aware that the argument COULD be valid and sound even if no one found it convincing.
Well, I haven’t found an atheistic argument that changed my mind either…so we both can play the “convincedâ€" game.

Not only have I NOT attacked this premise, I have actually agreed with it. I do believe that it is POSSIBLE for a MGB to exist in some possible world.

Then you've just inadvertently admitted that God exists, and I will explain why below.



No, it just so happens that YOU ARE DEFINING God as having necessary existence, which is the semantic trick that I accused you of doing in my past round.


Yes, but the accusation was/is misplaced. How something is defined has absolutely NOTHING to do with the truth value of whether or not that “thingâ€" is actually necessarily true. I can define my dog as having a necessary existence. But my dog does not have a necessary existence, so how he was defined has nothing to do with the truth value of the proposition. That is exactly WHY the argument is based on POSSIBILITIES, because all possible necessary truths MUST be actually necessarily true.


Moreover, the dictionary definition that you give does NOT include necessary existence.

Yes it does. It defines God as all-powerful. Omnipotence is not something that one can gain, it is a necessary attribute.


Yes, IF a God actually created the rules of the universe then God would have to exist. But you don't simply get to assert that he IN FACT created the rules of the universe. The dictionary is simply stating what these various religion BELIEVES, not what is actually true.

My sole purpose was to simply give a definition of the being that I am advocating for, nothing more, and nothing less.



What is the point of arguing for "possibility" when your first premise already claims "necessity"?

I can define God anyway I want to, but if it isn’t possible for such a being to exist, then that would make the being as defined existence FALSE.


I would first like to address this "convincing" issue, because I think I haven't been clear enough. When I said that I have never seen anyone being convinced by this argument, I should have added "anyone WHO DOES NOT ALREADY BELIEVE IN THE CONCLUSION"; I was using "convinced" in the sense of "that which changed my mind" (and I do not know anyone who became a theist because of this argument). I would also like to point out that I was not presenting this as an actual argument; I am fully aware that the argument COULD be valid and sound even if no one found it convincing.

Well, I haven’t found an atheistic argument that changed my mind either…so we both can play the “convinced” game.


Not only have I NOT attacked this premise, I have actually agreed with it. I do believe that it is POSSIBLE for a MGB to exist in some possible world.

Then you’ve just inadvertently admitted that God exists, and I will explain why below.

No, it just so happens that YOU ARE DEFINING God as having necessary existence, which is the semantic trick that I accused you of doing in my past round.

Yes, but the accusation was/is misplaced. How something is defined has absolutely NOTHING to do with the truth value of whether or not that “thing” is actually necessarily true. I can define my dog as having a necessary existence. But my dog does not have a necessary existence, so how he was defined has nothing to do with the truth value of the proposition. That is exactly WHY the argument is based on POSSIBILITIES, because all possible necessary truths MUST be actually necessarily true.

Moreover, the dictionary definition that you give does NOT include necessary existence.

Yes it does. It defines God as all-powerful. Omnipotence is not something that one can gain, it is a necessary attribute. One cannot gain omnipotence via contigingent circumstances. You either have it, or you don't

Yes, IF a God actually created the rules of the universe then God would have to exist. But you don't simply get to assert that he IN FACT created the rules of the universe. The dictionary is simply stating what these various religion BELIEVES, not what is actually true.

My sole purpose was to simply give a definition of the being that I am advocating for, nothing more, and nothing less.



What is the point of arguing for "possibility" when your first premise already claims "necessity"?

I can define God anyway I want to, but if it isn’t possible for such a being to exist, then that would make the being as defined existence FALSE.

You said yourself that necessity makes possibility irrelevant ("If something is possibly necessarily true, then it must be actually true.") So, given that fact, the argument basically becomes:

1) God exists necessarily
2) Therefore God exists

If this is not a semantic trick and circular reasoning, then I do not know what it is.

Nope, not quite. The argument is more like…

  1. All possible necessary truth’s must be actually true
  2. God’s existence is possibly necessarily true
  3. Therefore, God exists

You already admitted that God’s existence is possible, so please explain to me how someone’s existence can be possibly necessarily true, but actually false at the same time??? If it is actually false, it was never possibly necessarily true to begin with, but you already admitted that it was!!



Setting aside this idea that "atheism can't account for objective morality" (because I actually think that it can), the point of the problem of evil is that one can not RECONCILE evil and suffering with an omnibenevolent God. According to most theists, if God does exist, then objective morality DO exist and the problem of evil actually becomes a problem for them.

Then again, it would seem as if you could have to prove why there couldn’t be a morally sufficient reason as to why God will allow evil and suffering. The burden of proof is on you in that regard.

(This is a quote from my own first round) What I meant by that is when you define something with a certain characteristic, then this particular thing ONLY has this particular characteristic IF IT EXISTS.

Of course I agree. If God doesn’t exist, then he doesn’t have necessary existence. That is basically what you are saying. The argument is if it is even POSSIBLE for God to exist, then God must exist. Again, a proposition cannot be possibly necessarily true, but actually false. That is like saying it is possible for the number 7 to be divided into the number 849894734987347737483473 evenly...since mathematical truths are necessary truths, if it is possible for 7 to be divided into that number evenly, then it is true that the number 7 can ACTUALLY be divided into that number. If 7 cannot be divided into that number, then it was never possibly necessarily true to begin with.


By virtue of being omnipotent (limited only by logic, I really hate the "rock that god can't lift" argument), it is therefore possible for God to accomplish whatever goal he has WITHOUT having JFK killed, unless the assassination IS IN FACT his goal (but then benevolence goes right out the window).

If God knew that the only way a few select people would get to know him by way of JFK’s assassination, then to God, that is a morally sufficient reason. If you disagree with this, then you are judging God based on your own personal standard, which is very much subjective and cannot be the basis of any objectivity by any measure.

I would tend to agree, although I would also point out that there is no way to be ABSOLUTELY certain about that. Even mathematicians tend to agree that there is no ultimate way to prove that math is ALWAYS true.

There is a way, actually. Does the concept of God violate any law of logic? Is the concept of such a being coherent? If the concept is logically coherent, then it is possible, in some possible world.

The important part here is: IF God's existence is necessary. If God's existence is necessary, then I agree.

My point was “If we are talking about a God whose existence is necessary”.


If something is necessarily true, then discussing "possibility" is completely useless; something is EITHER impossible, possible or necessary. This is true UNLESS you are clearly defining the "necessity" as possible and NOT the "truth". In this case, the question remains: what is your justification to claim that God necessarily exist?

The argument does not start by assuming that God is necessary, it assumes that God is defined as necessary, and in P2 makes the further point that such a being, as defined in P1, existence is possible.

That was exactly my point, I was simly giving an exemple of how greatness can imply non-existence. But more importantly, you missed the first part of the quote; what is your justification to claim that existence is a necessary component of greatness? This goes back to my point in the beginning where I said that something only has a certain characteristic when that thing actually exists.

Would you agree that necessary existence is of greater quality than contingent existence?


No, my realicorns are not omnipotent nor omniscient, and they are pink. So, do they exist? Remember, they are defined as "unicorns that actually exist". While this may seem like a silly parody, I believe that is adequately illustrates the silliness of defining something into existence.

Then your realicorn doesn’t have any “real” explanatory value. You have to posit an adequate enough explanation that will explain the origins of the universe, life, and consciousness…and your realicorn isn’t omnipotent, so it can’t do these things, but these things are precisely what needs to be explained.

Burncastle

Con

I thank my opponent for his response.

"Well, I haven’t found an atheistic argument that changed my mind either…so we both can play the “convinced” game." Atheism is not a position that requires convincing, it is simply the rejection of theistic claims. Atheism is the default position.

"Then you’ve just inadvertently admitted that God exists, and I will explain why below." We'll see about that.

"How something is defined has absolutely NOTHING to do with the truth value of whether or not that “thing” is actually necessarily true." And yet the only justification that you have given so far to support your assertion that God exists necessarily is that he is defined that way.

"That is exactly WHY the argument is based on POSSIBILITIES, because all possible necessary truths MUST be actually necessarily true." As I have already said, possibility is a meaningless concept when we're discussing necessary truth.

"Yes it does. It defines God as all-powerful" All-powerful does not mean necessary existence.

"I can define God anyway I want to, but if it isn’t possible for such a being to exist, then that would make the being as defined existence FALSE." And there we have; you flat out just said that you can define God anyway you want, which means that there is NO justification behind your definition. It is true that a word can mean anything to anyone, but it is NOT true that this meaning necessarily corresponds to something that actually exists.

"
Nope, not quite. The argument is more like…


    1. All possible necessary truth’s must be actually true
    1. God’s existence is possibly necessarily true
    1. Therefore, God exists"


And since I have already established that "possibility" and "necessity" are mutually exclusive concepts (in the terms that you're using), the argument is actually more like the one I previously presented.

"You already admitted that God’s existence is possible, so please explain to me how someone’s existence can be possibly necessarily true, but actually false at the same time???" Your usage of the word possibly is becoming very confusing, could you please clarify whether "possibly" refers to "necessarily" or "true"? Because my answer will depend which term is "possible". If "necessity" is the thing that is possible, then your argument is coherent, but you are still lacking the demonstration that God IS IN FACT necessarily existent. If "truth" is the thing that is possible AND yet is also necessary, then your argument is simply an assertion that God exists, without any supporting evidence.

"Then again, it would seem as if you could have to prove why there couldn’t be a morally sufficient reason as to why God will allow evil and suffering. The burden of proof is on you in that regard. " I have actually fulfilled my burden in the JFK example; if God is omnipotent, then he can achieve whatever goal he has in mind WITHOUT causing suffering around the world, UNLESS the suffering IS his goal, in which case he would be immoral.

"Of course I agree. If God doesn’t exist, then he doesn’t have necessary existence. That is basically what you are saying." Pretty much.

"The argument is if it is even POSSIBLE for God to exist, then God must exist. Again, a proposition cannot be possibly necessarily true, but actually false." Again, a proposition can not be both possible AND necessary.

"That is like saying it is possible for the number 7 to be divided into the number 849894734987347737483473 evenly...since mathematical truths are necessary truths, if it is possible for 7 to be divided into that number evenly, then it is true that the number 7 can ACTUALLY be divided into that number. If 7 cannot be divided into that number, then it was never possibly necessarily true to begin with." Ah, I think I see what the problem is: you do not actually understand what "possible" means, or rather what it implies.

To be able to say that X is possible, it must be the case that it can be both true and false (although not simultaneously). For example, it is POSSIBLE for a golfer to make a hole-in-one (the ball can either go in the hole, or it can go elsewhere), it is also POSSIBLE that I get struck by lightning in the next year. On the other hand, it is NOT possible that 2+2=5, nor is it possible for a square circle to exist. Furthermore, it is not "possible" that 2+2=4, since it is necessary. In the case of a being that necessary exists, it is NOT possible for that being to NOT exist, which is why you CAN NOT use the term "possible" when you are talking about that being's existence.

"If God knew that the only way a few select people would get to know him by way of JFK’s assassination, then to God, that is a morally sufficient reason. If you disagree with this, then you are judging God based on your own personal standard, which is very much subjective and cannot be the basis of any objectivity by any measure." The syntax of this sentence made it difficult to understand, could you please rephrase it?

"Does the concept of God violate any law of logic?" Yes, the law of non-contradiction (via the problem of evil).

"Is the concept of such a being coherent?" I do not believe that "existing outside of time" is a coherent concept, so no.

"My point was “If we are talking about a God whose existence is necessary”" Which is a premise that I DO NOT GRANT.

"The argument does not start by assuming that God is necessary, it assumes that God is defined as necessary" So you grant that you are simply starting with the assumption that God is (or "is defined as") necessary? Great, now HOW CAN YOU JUSTIFY THAT ASSUMPTION?

"and in P2 makes the further point that such a being, as defined in P1, existence is possible." Which, as I have said countless times, is useless.

"Would you agree that necessary existence is of greater quality than contingent existence?" I am so glad that you ask this question because the answer is NO. I am absolutely not convinced that existence is a quality that is affected by greatness; I believe that existence is simply a state. Assuming that you disagree with me, what would be your justification to claim that existence is a part of greatness?

"Then your realicorn doesn’t have any “real” explanatory value. You have to posit an adequate enough explanation that will explain the origins of the universe, life, and consciousness…and your realicorn isn’t omnipotent, so it can’t do these things, but these things are precisely what needs to be explained." Two things: first, why is "explanatory power" a prerequisite to necessary existence? Second, God has absolutely NO explanatory power; it tells us absolutely nothing about anything, it makes NO predictions and it seems contradictory with what we observe.

Debate Round No. 3
His_Majesty

Pro


I thank my opponent for his response.

"Atheism is not a position that requires convincing, it is simply the rejection of theistic claims. Atheism is the default position." It requires convincing for me.

"And yet the only justification that you have given so far to support your assertion that God exists necessarily is that he is defined that way." That is what you keep asserting. My argument mainly focuses on the possibility of the existence of a Supreme Being. How this being is defined and the truth value of whether this being actually exist are independent of each other.

"As I have already said, possibility is a meaningless concept when we're discussing necessary truth." No it isn't. Again, I can define my dog as having a necessary existence, but obviously, how I define my dog is completely independent of whether or not the proposition "my dog has a necessary existence" is true or false. I don't know what part of that you aren't understanding :)

"All-powerful does not mean necessary existence." Actually it does. If a being is all-powerful, "he" cannot gain this omnipotence from contingent circumstances, meaning his power cannot be dependent upon anything besides himself, which would make his power necessary, and if his power is necessary, his existence is necessary.

"And there we have; you flat out just said that you can define God anyway you want, which means that there is NO justification behind your definition. It is true that a word can mean anything to anyone, but it is NOT true that this meaning necessarily corresponds to something that actually exists." Do you not understand the fact that how something is defined is independent of the truth value of the concept??



And since I have already established that "possibility" and "necessity" are mutually exclusive concepts (in the terms that you're using), the argument is actually more like the one I previously presented. Well, once you admitted that it is possible for God to exist, you are inadvertantly admitting that God actually exists. You are basically saying "there is a possible world at which God exists", well, if God exists in some possible world, God must exist in this world as well, because that is what it means to be "omnipresent", existing in all possible worlds. Unfortunately for you, this conclusion is inescapable once you admit the possibility. There is no way out. That is why the argument is so strong, because if the existence of God is even POSSIBLE, then it follows that God exists.


"Your usage of the word possibly is becoming very confusing, could you please clarify whether "possibly" refers to "necessarily" or "true"? Because my answer will depend which term is "possible". If "necessity" is the thing that is possible, then your argument is coherent, but you are still lacking the demonstration that God IS IN FACT necessarily existent. If "truth" is the thing that is possible AND yet is also necessary, then your argument is simply an assertion that God exists, without any supporting evidence."

Ok, let me ask you a question in efforts to drive home this point; If God's existence is possibly necessarily true, but actually false...how can his existence move from a contingent existence, to a necessary existence? Do you understand the question? So for example, lets say I go to the gym and I am unable to lift 300 lbs. So how can I go from being unable to lift the weight, to being able to lift the weight? What will I have to do? Now, if you were my fitness trainer, you can recommend many things for me to do to life the targeted weight. So, if it is possible for me to lift, I can do certain things to make that possibility an actuality.

So, if God's existence is POSSIBLY necessarily true, how can his existence go from possibly necessary, to actual necessary true. Based on what circumstances can this happen? This is a key point, because I maintain that if God's existence is not necessarily true, then it is necessarily false, because necessity is not something you can lack at one point, and possess at another point. If you don't have it, you will never have it, and if it possible for you to have, then you must actually have, which is why a person will never go to sleep with finite knowledge, and wake up with infinite knowledge.


" I have actually fulfilled my burden in the JFK example; if God is omnipotent, then he can achieve whatever goal he has in mind WITHOUT causing suffering around the world, UNLESS the suffering IS his goal, in which case he would be immoral." So if God knew that the only way 3 people in Dallas, TX would come to be saved IF and only IF JFK was killed in the manner that he was killed, then that is s morally sufficient reason for God to orchestrate a world at which this event would play out.

Again, a proposition can not be both possible AND necessary. Um, if something is necessarily true, it is probably possible for it to be necessarily true. Just sayin'.


Ah, I think I see what the problem is: you do not actually understand what "possible" means, or rather what it implies.
To be able to say that X is possible, it must be the case that it can be both true and false (although not simultaneously). For example, it is POSSIBLE for a golfer to make a hole-in-one (the ball can either go in the hole, or it can go elsewhere), it is also POSSIBLE that I get struck by lightning in the next year. On the other hand, it is NOT possible that 2+2=5, nor is it possible for a square circle to exist. Furthermore, it is not "possible" that 2+2=4, since it is necessary. In the case of a being that necessary exists, it is NOT possible for that being to NOT exist, which is why you CAN NOT use the term "possible" when you are talking about that being's existence. First off, I don't understand how you continue to distingiush between what is actually necessarily true, and the possibility of it being actually necessarily true. If something is necessarily true, then it must be possible for it to be necessarily true, because if it weren't possible, it wouldn't be necessarily true. If I can pick up a chair with one hand, then it is possible for me to pick up a chair with one hand, because if it wasn't possible, then I would not be able to do it, but I can, so it is possible. This kind of logic works even when speaking of contingent truths, so it would also obviously apply to necessary truths.

Yes, the law of non-contradiction (via the problem of evil). But the being was already defined as having the attribute of omnibenevolence, and you already admitted that such a being's existence is possible. So how is the being's existence possible on one hand, but violating logical laws on another?

I do not believe that "existing outside of time" is a coherent concept, so no. But again, you already admitted that this being's existence is possible. Second, if you don't believe it was possible for a being to exist outside of time (before the universe), then by default, you have to believe in infinite regression within time, and I am puzzled as to how you think that is a coherent concept.

Which is a premise that I DO NOT GRANT. To late, because for the third time :) you already admitted that the existence of God is possible. No turning back now lol.

So you grant that you are simply starting with the assumption that God is (or "is defined as") necessary? Great, now HOW CAN YOU JUSTIFY THAT ASSUMPTION? Not at all. I am starting with the assumption that there is this concept of God that is defined as "necessary". This concept can either be true or false, just like any other concept or proposition. But, if it is even possible for the concept to be true (P2), then everything from P2 and on just follows logically.


I am so glad that you ask this question because the answer is NO. I am absolutely not convinced that existence is a quality that is affected by greatness; I believe that existence is simply a state. Assuming that you disagree with me, what would be your justification to claim that existence is a part of greatness? Well, when you look at the mortal body of a human being, how it functions is dependent upon numerous things, and our existence can be taken away from us at the blink of an eye. But a Supreme Being whose existence is not dependent upon anything/anyone else but himself, that seems to be of greater quality than otherwise. That is my opinion. So lets suppose you walked in a store that sold "years" so if you purchased the "5" year plan, you would live for 5 more years. So the store has all of these different year plans...5 years/10 years/ 20/50/100/infinity....can we both agree that most people would purchase the "infinity" year plan? That is because the infinity year plan is of greater quality than the 5 year plan. would get the most sales However, the necessity of God's being would just be a default attribute of God if the four omni's which are attributed to God are true.

And not only that, but existence itself is necessary. It is a necessary condition. If you find the idea that the universe popped in to being uncaused out of nothing completely absurd, then you must admit that existence itself has to be a necessary condition. Something had to always be here.

Two things: first, why is "explanatory power" a prerequisite to necessary existence? Well, we have a finite universe, we have life from nonlife, and consciousness from unconsciousness. I believe that the God hypothesis has more explanatory power than naturalistic worldview. So, for example, the ability to create from nothing...in order to create from nothing, one would have to be omnipotent, but your realicorn isn't omnipotent, so if it lacks to the power needed to explain what we know to be true, then it cannot be taken serious as an alternative to a Supreme Being, as defined in the argument.

Second, God has absolutely NO explanatory power; it tells us absolutely nothing about anything, it makes NO predictions and it seems contradictory with what we observe.
Then it appears a debate on the kalam argument is brewing.



Burncastle

Con

Burncastle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
His_Majesty

Pro

Light work.
Burncastle

Con

Burncastle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by dhardage 2 years ago
dhardage
The Ontological argument presupposes the existence of something for which there is no evidence. Since the base assumption cannot be shown to be true, the entire argument is baseless and untenable.
Posted by His_Majesty 2 years ago
His_Majesty
@SweetLib...if u think you have some knockout refutation of the ontological argument, then by all means, accept my challenge to u regarding it.

@Burncastle.....no prob
Posted by Burncastle 2 years ago
Burncastle
That's basically what I kept repeating over and over again. Saying that something exists necessarily does not make it true.
Posted by SweetLiberty 2 years ago
SweetLiberty
The argument can be rewritten as follows to demonstrate its absurdity"
1. Pepe Le Pew, by definition, is a maximally stinky being that exists necessarily. (By "stinky", it is meant that Pepe Le Pew has the attribute defined as omnimalodorous.)
2. It is possible for a maximally stinky being to exist in some possible world.
3. If it is possible for a maximally stinky being to exist in some world, it is possible for a maximally stinky being to exist in this world.
4. If it is possible for a maximally stinky being to exist in this world, then a maximally stinky being must exist in this world.
5. Therefore, Pepe Le Pew exists.
Posted by Burncastle 2 years ago
Burncastle
Sorry about the forfeiture, I'm dealing with some pretty frustrating internet problems right now (although it seems to be better now). It should be fully functionnal for my next round, but in the meantime, here is something for you to address in your next round:

You have said that defining something a certain way is not a guarantee that this definition matches reality, which I totally agree with. Now, what is your justification behind your assertion that God is in fact described the way you defined him?
Posted by mightbenihilism 2 years ago
mightbenihilism
The ontological argument has a unique poetic quality to it. I can't speak to its inherent reasonability, as I haven't spent very much thinking it through. One thing that does strike me about the argument is that it has some interesting parallels with the multiverse idea in physics. In a nutshell, as I understand it, in order to account for the apparent fine-tuning our present universe possesses which makes it possible for sentient life, a near-inconceivably vast number of unobserved parallel universes --- almost all of which are duds --- is necessary to account for this tuning in a non-intelligent way. I believe the number quoted by a Steven Weinberg to account for a particular fine bit of universal tuning was over a vigintillion universes.

Ontologically, though, if there were a God in any of these vigintillion universes, then he, she or it could theoretically bridge the gap between these universes and be a God over all of them. True, we may not have decisive evidence for such, but if the argument dwindles down to a vigintillion universes --- all of which are D.O.A. except our own --- and an uncreated sentient cause, many would choose the uncreated sentient cause, and not unjustifiably. At the very least, an uncreated sentient cause might vouchsafe for them an eternity of sweetness after we shrug off this mortal coil, whereas a vigintillion dead universes gives us nothing but hope of blander-than-oatmal non-being.
Posted by His_Majesty 2 years ago
His_Majesty
Ok
Posted by Burncastle 2 years ago
Burncastle
I am going to accept this debate (and post my first round) monday night. I have some things to study first.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
His_MajestyBurncastleTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture