Do you think Modal Logic can prove God's existence?

Posted by: Pitbull15

Poll closed on 6/6/2014 at 12:00AM.
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No

6 votes
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Yes

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Modal logic increases the probability that God exist

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K

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You don't need proves to prove that God exist.

Jesus, who is part of God, once said"blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."-from the holy gospel according to John.
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6
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Science

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vankipp says2014-04-30T08:31:05.4514469-05:00
In response to weeksie's answer: your evidentialism (which appears to be empirical, possibly scientistic) is self-defeating, and has been abandoned by most philosophers. When you say only "actual" evidence can establish the truth of something, that very claim cannot be established by empirical or scientific evidence. You therefore rely upon a philosophical assumption which cannot be empirically or scientifically evaluated, only rationally (logically) evaluated. Purely rational argument is either a valid mode of attaining true knowledge or it is not - you can't use it to establish scientistic evidentialism and then claim it is suddenly invalid. The truth is, logic underpins scientific inquiry. Science depends upon reason, it does not replace it. Modal logic in particular has applications in computer science and the analysis of language, among other applications. It's a perfectly legitimate mode for considering any rationally intelligible question.
Pitbull15 says2014-04-30T08:33:20.9077479-05:00
@weeksie: Do you know what modal logic is?
Weeksie says2014-04-30T10:33:35.1810920-05:00
@Pitbull15: Yes. @vankipp: It's not evidentialism to conform one's beliefs to the best available evidence. And don't pretend we're not talking about a very specific and profound question about the cosmos. We're not talking about the truth of "something," we're talking about the truth of God. Does God exist? As a matter of faith and philosophy, it's a big mystery, but as a matter of fact, it's a yes or no question. And based on the utter lack of any kind of corroborative evidence whatsoever, I think we know the answer. Now, you may have a point that the existence of some supernatural being such as God is possible. You don't need modal logic to convince me of that. Pink unicorns are possible too. I can't prove they don't exist, and there's nothing that says they absolutely can't. The same can be said for green faeries. If I told you that there was a Chia Pet in the shape of my face orbiting the far side of Mars, there is no reason why that would be impossible, and you couldn't prove me wrong. But that's a far different thing than establishing the truth of it. And if I were to then argue that the Chia Pet has thoughts and cares about us and grants wishes and is concerned where we place our genitals, I think we can agree that would be an insurmountable leap of logic. And expecting someone to accept it based on absolutely no evidence of its existence in the first place would be even more unreasonable, and unacceptable.
vankipp says2014-04-30T12:43:55.4531398-05:00
@weeksie: Thanks for the response. Glad to hear you are not espousing evidentialism after all, and sorry if I misread you. I thought your first comment implied that nothing outside of natural law and science can be suitably established. If you seek to survey the best available evidence and are not espousing evidentialism, then it seems that you are open to the deliverances of reason/logic. If you require empirical and/or scientific evidence, though, and reject purely logical arguments out of hand, then you really are an evidentialist. I myself love to see empirical / scientific evidence alongside rational argument when it's available, but don't require it. Maybe we will agree on this, but when it comes to assessing the existence of a being that transcends space-time, it's not reasonable to demand scientific evidence. Science is a limited enterprise with tools aimed at measuring the observable phenomena WITHIN space-time, and with methods that even further constrain its scope. We need to employ a broader range of tools, including logic, to assess this question. So then, if you are open to the deliverances of logic, then maybe we can discuss the actual strengths or weaknesses of the modal ontological argument itself, rather than saying that fancy tricks of logic can never count as good evidence for God's existence. Alvin Plantinga's formulation of the modal ontological argument is widely acknowledged as logically airtight, and the so the true debate comes down to whether the concept of a Maximally Great Being is coherent or not - whether such is thing is possible. If such a being is possible, then it is actually necessarily existent. You brought up a version of Bertrand Russel's teapot and green faeries to parody the concept of God. You are saying, I think, that you could propose the existence of any number of bizarre and ad hoc beings, and it would be ridiculous for me to have to concretely disprove their existence - one cannot disprove such things. Well, this is not actually germane to the discussion of the modal ontological argument for God's existence. Your orbiting Chia pet, green faeries, teapots, Flying Spaghetti Monsters and such are all contingent, rather than necessary, beings. The very reason they are used as parodies is because they are described in such a way as to have contingent and obviously improbable properties - but these same properties are what cause them to fail as analogs to the concept of a Maximally Great Being. The very reason the ontological argument exists is because the logical implications of a Maximally Great Being are radically different than the implications of any being which is anything less than maximally great (such as an orbiting chia pet). The amazing thing is, if a Maximally Great Being can be established as a coherent possibility, it definitionally becomes a necessary being, which of course means it must exist. In this way the argument could be said to prove God's existence in a way most other theist arguments cannot. Modal logic can produce actual certainties from uncertainties - that's why it is so valuable. But in this argument it hinges on the coherence of the idea of a Maximally Great Being. Now that I have said that the modal ontological argument can produce a certainty if the concept of a MGB is coherent, you may wonder why I have not voted that it can prove God's existence, but instead have voted that modal logic makes God's existence more probable. That's because while I accept that it could prove God's existence if successful, I am not totally convinced it is successful - I am still wrestling with the coherence of a MGB. I lean in favor of it, but am not 100% certain of it's coherence. Look forward to hearing back.
Weeksie says2014-05-01T03:34:47.8493192-05:00
@Vankipp: "...When it comes to assessing the existence of a being that transcends space-time, it's not reasonable to demand scientific evidence." Why is it not reasonable? Isn't it even more unreasonable to make such a claim without any proof or evidence at all? If someone is going to state with any level of certainty that such a being exists, why shouldn't they be held to the same standard as any other matter of fact statement about the universe? What gives them a pass? "Science is a limited enterprise with tools aimed at measuring the observable phenomena WITHIN space-time, and with methods that even further constrain its scope. We need to employ a broader range of tools, including logic, to assess this question." Says you. Look, I agree that science deals with the natural universe, but you seem to be assuming there is more than natural laws, again without any evidence to back it up. And you also assume that intuitive logic is somehow broader than scientific reason, when in reality it is even more limited by the boundaries of ones own understanding. Science has proven time and time again that what is true tends to be counter-intuitive. The fact that solid matter is nearly entirely empty space. The fact that empty space itself actually has atomic weight, and accounts for the majority of energy in the universe. The fact that random mutation filtered by natural selection is responsible for the shapes and structures of our bodies. These are just a couple of examples of scientific truths, backed by evidence, completely refuting what we as humans thought to be true for thousands of years, based purely on our own logical reasoning. It wasn't really our logic that was at fault, but the limited understanding we had that impeded it. "...The true debate comes down to whether the concept of a Maximally Great Being is coherent or not - whether such is thing is possible." I think I've already conceded that such at thing is possible. As to whether or not it's coherent, I think, depends on whether or not one is arguing from the deistic or theistic viewpoint. It's certainly more coherent from the deistic viewpoint, but then there is, once again, the problem of evidence. This is compounded when the apologist, as he or she is wont to do, makes the logical leap from the deistic or agnostic supreme being and the theistic one, who answers to a specific name, has specific rules, cares about what we do and what we eat, what we do with our genitals and with whom, etc. See, you make such a leap yourself when you say... "If such a being is possible, then it is actually necessarily existent." Says who? What makes your claim of a supreme being so much more necessary than purple unicorns or green faeries? You know that unicorns and faeries were believed to be the stewards of magic in the world, without which there could be no changing of the seasons, no life, etc? For thousands of generations, they were deemed just as "necessary" in the lives of millions of people over eons of time as you claim your god is to yours, and for the same reason. The same can be said for the great serpent god Coatzalcoatl of the Aztecs, or Apollo of the ancient Greeks, the dreaming sky and earth gods of the aborigines, Wotan of the ancient Saxon tribes, Baal of ancient Canaanites, and on and on and on. AGAIN, why is your supernatural claim any more deserving of special privilege than anyone else's? The only difference I see, aside from the obvious details, is that the mythology you're defending is still believed in at this point in time, at least by far more people. But I maintain they are equally unscientific, equally unreasonable in the face of what we do know to be scientifically true about the cosmos, and they are supported by equally poor evidence. I'm glad to see that you are still wrestling with the coherence of the idea of a Maximally Supreme Being. It sounds like you are indeed more of a deist than a theist. Unfortunately, where the modal argument fails in this specific case is the idea that "if God is possible, it is therefore necessarily existent." To argue such a phenomenal leap of logic and belief while simultaneously relieving oneself of any responsibility for evidence is, I think, monumentally naive, at best. There very well may be such a being, but in order to be compatible with everything we know about the cosmos thanks to scientific study and observation, that being would have to be an indifferent one; one that perhaps set everything in motion but simply has no need to interfere or intervene further. This seems, at least to me, the most coherent possibility, but a god like that is far from necessary; the laws of nature operate just as well without that assumption. Even worse, belief in such a thing is at best unhelpful and at worst a real obstacle in the study of nature and natural phenomena, and I think we'd all be better off without such a mental hindrance.
vankipp says2014-05-01T13:31:38.8278832-05:00
@weeksie: thanks for your response. I'll go point by point because there is a lot of misunderstanding here. “ 'When it comes to assessing the existence of a being that transcends space-time, it's not reasonable to demand scientific evidence.’ Why is it not reasonable? " The reason you cannot expect scientific evidence of a being that transcends space-time is simply that such a being would be immaterial - why would you expect to be able to capture physical evidence of an immaterial being? Now, some arguments for God do in fact include scientific evidence in support of their philosophical premises, which is nice, but it’s not a prerequisite that a serious argument include scientific evidence. As I said, such an expectation would amount to scientistic evidentialism, which is a self-contradictory, failed epistemology. "Isn't it even more unreasonable to make such a claim without any proof or evidence at all? If someone is going to state with any level of certainty that such a being exists, why shouldn't they be held to the same standard as any other matter of fact statement about the universe? What gives them a pass?" There is no pass being given - argument and evidence for that transcendent being should be expected - but you cannot a priori rule out rational argument as evidence. The modal ontological argument IS a piece of the evidence you are asking for, and it’s not alone: theists put forward Leibnitzian and Kalam cosmological arguments, teleological arguments, moral arguments, arguments from intentionality/consciousness, arguments from rationality and the intelligibility of the universe, arguments from the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics, and others, all as part of a cumulative case for the existence of God. “ 'Science is a limited enterprise with tools aimed at measuring the observable phenomena WITHIN space-time, and with methods that even further constrain its scope. We need to employ a broader range of tools, including logic, to assess this question.' Says you." NOT “says me”! Say historians of science, philosophers of science, and scientists themselves. That broader range of tools, namely logic, that I mention, is what we use to legitimize the deliverances of science itself. The project of science rests upon philosophical assumptions and logical tools. If someone were to challenge you to defend why science tells us anything meaningful or true, you would ultimately resort to reason and logic to argue for things like the predictive power of inductive reasoning, the properly basic reliance upon our senses in collecting observations, etc. The logical, epistemological tools we use to adjudicate science can adjudicate any other rationally intelligible question, such as the question of the existence of anything beyond the natural. "Look, I agree that science deals with the natural universe, but you seem to be assuming there is more than natural laws, again without any evidence to back it up." I’m not assuming there are more than natural laws, I’m saying that philosophers can use reason to debate whether or not there is anything beyond natural law. "And you also assume that intuitive logic is somehow broader than scientific reason, when in reality it is even more limited by the boundaries of ones own understanding. Science has proven time and time again that what is true tends to be counter-intuitive." You are conflating intuition and logic - they are not at all the same thing. Logic is the formal tool that allows us to assess our intuitions and push beyond them when necessary. Sure, tons of things are counter-intuitive - that is why logic is so important! Science’s many triumphs over misguided intuitions are due to the rigorous use of reason and logic operating on physical observations. "...'The true debate comes down to whether the concept of a Maximally Great Being is coherent or not - whether such is thing is possible.’ I think I've already conceded that such at thing is possible. As to whether or not it's coherent, I think, depends on whether or not one is arguing from the deistic or theistic viewpoint. It's certainly more coherent from the deistic viewpoint, but then there is, once again, the problem of evidence. " weeksie, when you said to pitbull that you understood modal logic, I took you seriously, but now you have simply shown that you are not familiar with how modal logic works or how the modal ontological argument in particular works. First of all, when you say you think a Maximally Great Being is possible, you have said the logical equivalent of “God exists”. I don’t think you intend that. Second, when you go on to explain your doubt about the coherence of a MGB, you are contradicting your statement about a MGB being possible. You are using “coherent” as if it means something like “plausible”, but what it actually means is that something does not have internal contradictions. If a concept is incoherent, then it has internal contradictions. Internal contradictions render a concept logically impossible. So if you truly doubt the coherence of a MGB (and remember, I have my doubts about this too), then you cannot concede that a MGB is possible. I really recommend that you read up on the modal ontological argument and become familiar with the logic operations and the terms, because, frankly, it’s not very intuitive and needs careful consideration. The pros will certainly explain it better than I can. "This is compounded when the apologist, as he or she is wont to do, makes the logical leap from the deistic or agnostic supreme being and the theistic one, who answers to a specific name, has specific rules, cares about what we do and what we eat, what we do with our genitals and with whom, etc." Couple points here. First, I don’t know what you mean by an "agnostic supreme being”. Second, this discussion isn’t really about leaping from a deist conception of God to a theistic conception. Different arguments for God’s existence, if they succeed, establish different characteristics of God. Some arguments will get you to a transcendent first cause of the universe but won’t establish the personhood of God. Some arguments will get you to a supreme ground for rationality and consciousness, but won’t include anything about creation. Pay attention to the characteristics of God that different arguments entail, and if the apologist/philosopher leaps beyond what his/her argument logically entails, then by all means call him/her out. "See, you make such a leap yourself when you say... 'If such a being is possible, then it is actually necessarily existent.' Says who? What makes your claim of a supreme being so much more necessary than purple unicorns or green faeries?" Again, you simply are unfamiliar with the terms and operations of modal logic. Necessity, like contingency, is a technical term in modal logic. IF a MGB is established as metaphysically possible, then it is necessarily existent. Any professional philosopher who engages with this argument will say that this progression from possibility to necessity is uncontroversial - this is simply the result of following the logic. The real controversy is over the metaphysical possibility of a MGB - that’s what I said in my previous comment. "You know that unicorns and faeries were believed to be the stewards of magic in the world, without which there could be no changing of the seasons, no life, etc? For thousands of generations, they were deemed just as "necessary" in the lives of millions of people over eons of time as you claim your god is to yours, and for the same reason. The same can be said for the great serpent god Coatzalcoatl of the Aztecs, or Apollo of the ancient Greeks, the dreaming sky and earth gods of the aborigines, Wotan of the ancient Saxon tribes, Baal of ancient Canaanites, and on and on and on. AGAIN, why is your supernatural claim any more deserving of special privilege than anyone else's? The only difference I see, aside from the obvious details, is that the mythology you're defending is still believed in at this point in time, at least by far more people. But I maintain they are equally unscientific, equally unreasonable in the face of what we do know to be scientifically true about the cosmos, and they are supported by equally poor evidence." As per my note above, all this is irrelevant. I’m not using “necessary” in a colloquial way, I’m using it as it is used in modal logic. "I'm glad to see that you are still wrestling with the coherence of the idea of a Maximally Supreme Being. It sounds like you are indeed more of a deist than a theist." Actually, I’m a Christian, but I’m not sure that the modal ontological argument, in particular, succeeds as an argument because I’m still wrestling with the coherence of a MGB. "Unfortunately, where the modal argument fails in this specific case is the idea that "if God is possible, it is therefore necessarily existent." To argue such a phenomenal leap of logic and belief while simultaneously relieving oneself of any responsibility for evidence is, I think, monumentally naive, at best." Again, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the argument in detail - this is a complete misrepresentation of it. Heck, I’m standing up for an argument that doesn’t even convince me yet, because I want to explain that the proper place to criticize it is in the concept of a MGB - the rest is truly ironclad. "There very well may be such a being, but in order to be compatible with everything we know about the cosmos thanks to scientific study and observation, that being would have to be an indifferent one; one that perhaps set everything in motion but simply has no need to interfere or intervene further. This seems, at least to me, the most coherent possibility, but a god like that is far from necessary; the laws of nature operate just as well without that assumption. Even worse, belief in such a thing is at best unhelpful and at worst a real obstacle in the study of nature and natural phenomena, and I think we'd all be better off without such a mental hindrance." There are some really interesting things in here to talk about. They take us far afield from the modal ontological argument, but it would be fun to tangle on each of these issues you bring up, perhaps on another thread.

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