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Does Platinga's re-written Ontological argument from Anselm prove that God exists?

Asked by: KylePooley
  • It is a sound argument...

    The crux of the argument, and why we can jump from 'some possible world' to 'all possible worlds', is that we are discussing a 'maximally great being'. By definition, this being must have greatness to a maximum degree. However, a being that exists in all possible worlds is greater than a being that exists in a few possible worlds. Therefore this being must exist in all possible worlds - any other alternative would be a logical contradiction to the definition.

  • I'll put it like this.

    1. If it is possible for a maximally great being not to exist, then a maximally great being does not exist in some possible world.

    2. If a maximally great being does not exist in some possible world, then it does not exist in every possible world.

    3. If a maximally great being does not exist in every possible world, then it does not exist in the actual world.

    4. If a maximally great being does not exist in the actual world, then a maximally great being does not exist. (What's even the point of this contention? It's the equivalent of 4=4).

    Conclusion reached. There must be no God!

  • Here is a re-written text by William Lane Craig, similar to Platinga, originating from Anselm.

    It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
    If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
    If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
    If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
    If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
    Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

  • I love William Lane Craig logic.

    I could use this argument to prove that literally anything exists. Swap out "maximally great being" with "flying screaming yellow plastic lamp", and BAM. I now have the flying screaming yellow plastic lamp I've always wanted (not really), Thank you William Lane Craig for making my day (once again). Besides, I have no idea how he jumps from "maximally great being in some possible world" to "maximally great being in every possible world."

  • There's no certainty that 'maximally great' are meaningful

    'Great' is vague -- unless defined as some measurable quantity (mass? Number of distinct elements?) it's subjective and appeals to nebulous cultural biases of importance, grandeur, majesty.

    'Maximal' assumes perceptions, insights and intuitions that make sense over human-sized domains (buildings, sheep, rice-grains), but make less sense over very large and small domains (is there a maximal quark, for example? A maximal time-span? A maximal gravity? And how would you isolate and measure it?) You have to show that the term applies in those domains and that our existing intuitions hold before using it there.

    Finally, there seems to be some axiom of choice at work here: that we can choose a particular element from some vastly large and possibly uncountable number of elements. This axiom has been contested mathematically and philosophically, and there are practical engineering objections to it too.

    The more ignorant one is of mathematics (especially formal logic in general and Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem in particular) and physics the more appealing this argument is. Anselm's speculation (not really a proof) is more pulpit rhetoric or wine-and-cheese philosophy than a proposition scientific rigour can entertain.


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