The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

The Reverse Modal Ontological Argument Refutes God

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/4/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,795 times Debate No: 74726
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (74)
Votes (2)




I am playing devil's advocate in this debate - since my position is that neither argument actually can even hope to be demonstrated to be sound. Leave a message if you wish to accept. Messaging that you are "unable to accept due to your age criteria, etc." clearly demonstrates you have not read the rules, and thus will be unlikely to receive the challenge.

Full Resolution
The Reverse Modal Ontological Argument Most Likely Refutes God


God: An intelligent being that would exist modally necessarily
Reverse Modal Ontological Argument: An argument that argues God doesn't exist from the fact it is possible for God to not exist.

48h, 10,000 words, 3 rounds
BoP on Pro

Round 1: Acceptance, Rules, Definitions
Round 2: Arguments, Rebuttals
Round 3: Arguments, Rebuttals
Round 4: Rebuttals, No new arguments

Best of Luck!


Thank you Envisage. Look forward to your arguments.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank Mhykiel for accepting this debate, sadly our previous debate garnered no votes, hopefully this debate will be more popular. Given the simplistic nature of this resolution I do not expect to use all 10,000 characters in each round – so hopefully this debate will be more concise.

Argument Summary
I will present the basic form of the argument first, and then go through the justifying logic later.

P1. If God’s existence is possible, then God’s existence is necessary
P2. God’s existence is not necessary
C. God’s existence is not possible

This simplistic argument yields the conclusion that God’s existence is impossible. Thus to refute this argument, Pro would need to demonstrate that God's non-existance is impossible.

This I will extend to the form I will be defending within this debate:

P1. If God exists in any logically possible world, then God exists in all logically possible worlds (definition)
P2. If God does not exist in at least one possible world then God does not exist in all logically possible worlds
P3. God does not exist in at least one logically possible world
P4. God does not exist in all logically possible worlds (2,3 Modus Ponens)
C. God does not exist in any logically possible world (1,4 Modus Tollens)

This argument is logically valid via modus tollens and modus ponens, thus the conclusion, which is synonymous with the metaphysical impossibility of God, follows necessarily if P1-3 are true. Con would need to refute at least one premise to successfully negate.

Defence of Premise 1
This comes from God’s definition as a necessary being “An intelligent being that would exist modally necessarily”. This is to state that there is no logically possible state of affairs in which God cannot exist IF God exists. To argue against this is to contradict God’s definition.

Defence of Premise 2
This is a tautology.

Defence of Premise 3
I will spend most of my time defending this premise, as it is the only premise with information, and the only possibly contestable premise by Pro. For Pro to refute my argument he would need to demonstrate that it is impossible for there to be a logically possible world without a God in it. A proposition is logically possible if it entails no logical contradiction, and hence is logically consistent (and hence coherent).[]

Example World 1 – Nihilo
One possible world is one without anything in it whatsoever, this is a state of affairs with nothing to internally contradict itself, no matter, no particles, nothing. Thus, it is impossible to be self-inconsistent since there is nothing to be inconsistent with.

Example World 2 – Abstract World
Another possible world is one that is not based on daesin, or “being”. Thus, nothing would exist in such a world as we understand it, although logical frameworks would be constructable. Since there is nothing ontological to contradict itself, and assuming that logic itself doesn’t contradict itself – it follows it is logically consistent and thus possible.

Example World 3 – Single Particle Universes
Imagine a world with a single particle in it, that exists in a four dimensional framework, obeying basic a basic Hamiltonian with respect to time that extends infinitely into the past and future. Time wouldn’t exist in this universe like we generally experience it – it would merely just be a four dimensional graphical plot – with a line drawn on four axis that represents what this single particle does. This universe would just exist as-is, modally contingently, but without requiring an explanation for itself.[]

Example world 4 – Theories Of Everything
If naturalism is a possible explanation for this world, then we have another example. I only need to cite the numerous proposed theories of everything that attempt to explain the universe. Note that none of these have to correctly explain our current universe – only that they are a mathematical framework by which a universe, or various universes could exist from. Clearly a universe that is entirely contingent on a mathematical description doesn’t have an intelligent being with will within it, much less one that has any sort of will (which would be impossible to exactly map mathematically). Again, these would exist modally contingently, and without requiring external explanation. Examples include Carrol-Chen, Linde, etc.[,]

Intuitional Argument
Our minds possess an amazing power of knowing what is metaphysically possible from mere epistemic possibility. Thus, if you can conceive of a basic world with no God in it – well done, you have just upheld premise 3.

There is not much else to add to this argument. Good luck to Con in refuting it.



Thank you Envisage for the challenge. Instead of refuting the summary Envisage offered I will address the extended form of his argument.

R1. Premise 1

In the Modal argument for God, the definition of God is "Maximally Great Being" (MGB). Because of the property "Maximally Great" the modal logic follows such a being is necessary. When in the first round God was defined I assumed that is what the term "modally necessarily" meant. Necessary by the Modal Argument.

The property "maximally great" is the attribute of key importance to why "God" would be modally necessary. "great" referring to a positive property, and "maximally" referring to the extent or magnitude of a property being 'max'.

"Existence" in these arguments is deemed a positive property. And if MGB is possible in any world, then it follows to be possible to the greatest or max extent, therefore MGB exists in all worlds. The Modal Arguments proceed with saying that if something exists in all worlds then it exists "necessarily".[1]

P1 is "true" by way of the Modal argument giving "God" the property of being "Maximally Great".

R2. Premise 2

"P2. If God does not exist in at least one possible world then God does not exist in all logically possible worlds..."

A tautology is a formula which is "always true". Discerning if something is a tautology is a mechanical process of examining structure.

I look forward to Envisage offering the modal axiom or tautology formula he equates P2 to.

For the time being I am willing to accept this as "true".

R3. Premise 3

Envisage remarks "Pro to refute my argument he would need to demonstrate that it is impossible for there to be a logically possible world without a God in it. A proposition is logically possible if it entails no logical contradiction".

Envisage Defines God as "An intelligent being that would exist modally necessarily".

Due to the Modal argument which makes premise 1 true, we accept that if God an MGB is in any possible world than God is in all possible worlds. God as an MGB is A.

Any possible world must have all necessary entities. Because it is a tautology that A is necessary if and only if it is not possible for A not to be. Something that is necessary must then exist in all worlds.

If There is a world where an MGB is not possible then it is logical to deduce that such a world is not possible.

R4. Example worlds

If premise 1 is to be accepted as true (which it must to validate premise 4 and the conclusion) then such a world is not possible. Containing no members it contains nothing that is necessary, which is not possible.

R11. MGB in Example World 1 – Nihilo

Major. A set is defined by it's members. An empty set has no members to define it. Therefore an empty set has nothing to define it, anything not distinguishable from "nothing" is by definition nothing. Law of identity A = A. Such a world can not exist.

Minor. God is a maximally great being. Any positive property in a world, God will have it to the max extent. While an empty world has no members it is a world that exists. There is only one empty set. The greatest existence for an MGB in such a world would be to be the set itself. because an MGB can be the only MGB this is consistent with there only being one empty set.

R22. Example World 2 – Abstract World

Envisage describes this world without "being", a world in which nothing exists as we understand it. Daesin is the experience of being as human beings. I don't see why a MGB could not exist in such a world. In fact if a Maximally Great Being is one with all things and transcendental than such a world may be "home" to a MGB.

R33 Example World 3 – Single Particle Universes

Seems circular. "God can't exist in a world I define as a world without God."

R44 Example world 4 – Theories Of Everything

A Maximally Great Being doesn't need to do anything in a world but exist.

Summary: I look forward to the next round.

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks Con.
I tried to keep it below 1,000 words, but failed… Voters - I beg of your forgivness.


Premise 1
No rebuttal is given for this premise. Note that the definition of God within this debate is not a “maximally great being”, thus his arguments are so far red herrings. He can in principle attempt to argue that a maximally great being would possess the property of modally necessary existence, however refuting the argument on the basis of application to a maximally great being would entail a strawman argument.

P1 follows from the definition of God already provided, thus Con can only use his definition in a counter-argument, rather than a direct rebuttal.

Premise 2
It is more of a case of simply modal definitions "It is not necessary that X" is logically equivalent to "It is possible that not X".[] Hence this premise cannot be seriously contested except for sake of wasting space.

Premise 3
“Any possible world must have all necessary entities. Because it is a tautology that A is necessary if and only if it is not possible for A not to be. Something that is necessary must then exist in all worlds.”

Con misunderstands ontology here – since existence is not a predicate. The attributes of God are contingent on God existing in the first place. A triangle only exemplifies the attributes of “having three sides” if it exists, similarly God only exemplifies the state of “existing necessarily” if God exists in the first place. Properties are conditional. One cannot define something with existence for it to then exist.

There is no difference between the concept of “a million dollars in Envisages bank account” and “a million sollars in Envisage’s bank account, that exists” – this notion of ontology is obviously absurd. Thus physical and metaphysical properties/states/etc. are contingent on the subject existing first.

I have no idea where Con gets his assertion that “Any possible world must have all necessary entities.” – this is only true if one adheres to modal collapse – nor do I see how it is relevant to the argument.

A good way to illustrate this is with mathematical truths, mathematical truths are almost unanimously thought to be necessary truths – thus is they were found to be logically possible within this world, then they are necessarily true in all possible worlds. However the fact they are “a would be necessary truth” doesn’t predicate it to “be true”. Their necessary “truthfulness” is contingent on them being true in this world in the first place (hence why we need to solve mathematical conjectures first).

Example worlds
“ Containing no members it contains nothing that is necessary, which is not possible.”

I have no idea what Con’s argument is here, to formalise it we end up with something like:

P1. Possible Godless world entails nothing is necessary
P2. A world where nothing is necessary is impossible
C. Therefore, a possible godless world is impossible

This may not be a fully accurate representation of Con’s rebuttal, but he wasn’t very clear in his argument in the first place. He has not justified premise 1 of this formulation at all, an atheist does not need to commit to the notion that no necessary entities exist, since there is nothing about necessary existence that intrinsically entails intelligence, or sentience on any level, thus P1 is false. P2 is also unsound, since Con has given absolutely no reason to believe it. What is logically incoherent about all metaphysically possible worlds containing nothing but modally contingent entities> I see no reason why we should believe this is a problem.

Con conflates “a world that exists” with “a metaphysically possible world”, and this conflation in terminology births his rebuttal. I explicitly said it was a state of affairs – it is a way things could have turned out for the world. We could have not existed, the universe could have not existed, and everything could not have existed.

Con’s rebuttal amounts to a trivial fallacy of equivocation.

If “nothing” is a possible state of affairs, then P3 is upheld.

I have no idea what Con's argument here is meant to be. If the set contains nothing, then clearly an intelligent being (or any being for that matter) cannot be among them. This rebuttal is moot. Moreover Con has yet to show how “maximal greatness” has anything to do with modally necessary existence.

Abstract World
Con seems to misunderstand my argument with the abstract world. The argument isn’t that “a MGB could not exist in such a world”, but rather “is such a world logically consistent without requiring a God”.

The coherent of a “Godless world” is actually completely independent of the coherence of God itself. We do not require brooms to exist for a cupboard to be consistent, nor do we need God for an abstract world to be consistent. This is my point.

Thus, it is another example of a state of a godless affairs that is logically possible – hence fulfilling P3 of the argument I have set out.

To further my point, I digress from Con’s assertion that God could exist in an abstract world – for this makes absolutely no sense, since God would not exist in any more sense than a number, or an abstract concept. It would have no causal agency, and clearly would never be able to fulfil the definition of “intelligent”, and outright contradicts the fact that god is a being. Clearly numbers and letters are not beings, thus a world is indeed incompatible with God regardless – and nor would it even matter if it was compatible with a God that exists in it.

Con argues the following:

My world
W1 – A world with only abstract entities (A) and no God (~G)

W1= A & ~G

Con's world
W2 - A world with only abstract entities (A) and also God (G)
W2= A & G

Whether or not W2 is possible is irrelevant to the argument (and hence a red herring) since we are discussing the metaphysical possibility of W1 – if W1 is metaphysically possible then my argument is already sound.

I digress even further on Con's notion of ontology, dasein roughly translates to “being there”, in what sense does is an abstract object “being there”>

Single Particle Universes
This is not a rebuttal. I showed that such a world entails no logical contradictions, and in fact one could write the world within a single equation. For example:[ 9.50]

Good luck to Con in finding a contradiction in that! Especially given it is tried and tested physics.

Theories Of Everything
Con ignores this example. Mathematical frameworks exist for putative worlds – not necessarily the one we exist in, but a logically possible world nonetheless. These are self-contained without needing a God to remain logically consistent – hence fulfilling P3 of the argument.

Magical Powers of Intuition
Con ignores this argument, and hence makes mockery of our amasing powers of intuition - which proves that such worlds are logically possible. We rely on intuition for virtually everything in evryday experiences, we rely on trust to know that the laptop in front of us is real - by extension these putative worlds are possible.

Generalisation of Case

My case is simply a refutation of the claim that any possible world must contain God to remain logically consistant. Examples of logically consistent worlds with no God essentially is equivalent to refuting the claim “there exists no black swans” by showing an example of a black swan.



Unfortunately I did not get off work early enough to write a full rebuttal.

I'll just clarify that my position is, If God is defined as necessarily necessary then a world is only possible if it has all the necessary entities.

My second contention is that even if there are worlds God is not possible in this only makes God contingent upon a compatible world. If God is not defined as having to be maximally great then there is no logical link between contingent and being not possible in any world.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks Pro.

I hoped to keep this debate relatively quick and concise, thankfully Pro has obliged with his previous round. I request Pro make a full rebuttal next round, otherwise this debate can be reinstated. In any case thanks for the debate and best of luck in the voting!

Final Rebuttals
“If God is defined as necessarily necessary then a world is only possible if it has all the necessary entities.”

I hardly see what the argument is here, this is not a complete argument, and hence must be rejected out of hand. This is clear once it is formalised into a syllogism.

P1. If God is defined as necessarily necessary then a world is only possible if it has all the necessary entities
P2. God is defined as a necessary being
C. A world is only possible if it has all the necessary entities

I see no reason to believe P1, which is an assertion that comes out of nowhere. The mere definition of something entailing something regarding the contingency or necessity of everything else is absurd – definitions have no causal power.

Furthermore it ignores my points regarding how God is defined – God’s necessary existence is contingent on God’s existence in the first place. It’s this latter notion that is in contention within this debate.

Furthermore, even if this argument is correct then it makes no difference, since God is not required for something to exist necessarily even if it does. One such application is the modal collapse hypothesis – the notion that everything is actually necessary – thus while everything within this world is possible, they are also necessary (these modal terms are not mutually exclusive). Thus necessary entities work just fine in atheism.

“My second contention is that even if there are worlds God is not possible in this only makes God contingent upon a compatible world.”

If God is contingent then it violates the definition of God, and thus a contradiction entails. A god that exists in one possible world MUST exist in all possible worlds as per God’s definition. Thus a God that exists in some possible worlds and not in others is impossible – since modal contingency and modal necessity are mutually exclusive modal definitions:

Contingent: Something that is both logically possible to be true and logically possible to be false
Necessary: Something that is logically impossible to be false

This is equivalent to Pro stating that its possible for a triangle to possess only two sides – which I hope doesn’t require explaining is completely absurd. You contradict the definition.

Vote Pro. Oh btw, I just got a new job, as a teacher, champagnes are spilling!



Mhykiel forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
74 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
Make sure you save your rounds to a word file, and I will send you a reinstation of the debate. Just copy and past the first round and I will send my first 2 rounds as normal. With a 3 day time limit this time - lol.
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
"Would you like me to get this debate deleted. In either case I will keep my rebuttal short. *If you want it deleted tell airmax* and I will agree when he asks me."

You need to tell airmax, I cannot get this deleted on my own, it requires consent from both parties.
Posted by Mhykiel 2 years ago
I thought this debate was going to be deleted. I've been traveling and did not expect to be able to post anything
Posted by Furyan5 2 years ago
Lol causality is also impossible if B- theory of time is true as that requires a Creator to exist eternally both forward and backward in time.
Posted by tejretics 2 years ago

"A Quantum vacuum is contingent, hence it has an explanation, otherwise you would be contradicting causality, and ironically making the pursuit of science void."

What if the quantum vacuum's small levels of energy existed forever? That is probable, and if there is also an equally small level of gravity in the vacuum, the energy in the quantum vacuum would be zero. Zero energy CAN exist forever. Even otherwise, what stops eternal existence? It's possible. Causality isn't required if B-theory of time is true as is eternalism wherein time is a fourth dimension, which is entailed via. general and special relativity.
Posted by UndeniableReality 2 years ago
Not quite. Zeno's paradox was solved by basic calculus, which wasn't known at that time. The sum of the geometric series 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, ..., is 1, therefore it spans the whole length of the interval.
Posted by Furyan5 2 years ago
Zeno's paradox is just a magic trick. Its distraction. Its true that to get to point b from point a I Would first have to travel half the distance, but the fact is I can travel further than half way. So although the distance between the 2 points can be halved numerous times, at some point I will be moving more than half the distance I need to travel. They trick you into focusing on how many times a distance can be halved. Ie if I see a apple on a table the distance I would need to travel can be halved again and again... but I can travel further than halfway so halfway is irrelevant. What we need to focus on is the distance I can travel. Its just distraction.
Posted by CorieMike 2 years ago
@Furyan5 I am merely playing with the hypothesis, I dont think either physicalism, property dualism, idealism or solipsism can be proven true (though I lean more to physicalism). Two issues I find with solipsism is: No account for lack of control (rendering it unpragmatic, although I dont see control being a necessity) and the ego (Cogito Ergo Sum, which can also be doubted). We can't be certain of anything not even our own thoughts. Frederich Nietzsche addressed this in Beyond Good & Evil, section 16. This is where intuition comes in, since we cant go beyond our veridical senses our consciousness to see if it true. However, Intuition is by definition subjective.

Let's say I dont know what caused me? Does that make it any less true? We dont know what created the universe or if it was created? Does that mean it wasnt or didnt? Also, causality is dubious, simultaneous causation clearly shows that (Zeno's Paradox)
Posted by Furyan5 2 years ago
I woudn't argue it. Just ask you a question. What caused you?
Posted by CorieMike 2 years ago
Continutation => Adhering to determinism doesn"t necessitate objective knowledge, they only need to claim that they don"t know if it is true. I don"t see why one must reject Munchhausen"s trilemma, but for the sake of argument, you must show how justification can be based on anything other than those three possibilities or else accept the implications and be internally consistent.

Also, if determinism is self-refuting so is physicalism. Substance dualism cannot be true due to the interaction problem. Idealism cannot be true because it is an assumption that there are other minds. I would love to see how hear your arguments against solipsism.

You can message me, if you prefer not to discuss this here.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by blackkid 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:25 
Reasons for voting decision: The arguments used by Envisage were all non-sequitur. The original syllogism(s) lacks soundness and it's a gross misuse of basic argumentation.
Vote Placed by tejretics 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture of 2 rounds by Con - this severely hindered their ability to refute Pro's arguments, thus conduct and arguments to Pro.