1.3 The Ontological Argument (Weaknesses of the Ontological Argument…
1.3 The Ontological Argument
Arguments for the Ontological Argument
The whole argument is based on his definition of God which is
"that than which nothing greater can be conceived"
This expresses all the perfections of God and assuming that since that which is perfect must exist, then God exist
Argument works analytically, establishing proof for the existence of God based on the analysis of the word God. If God means existence as Anselm claims in the same way that triangle means three sides then he must necessary exist.
He cannot not exist, the argument is based on definition and language and seeks ti establish that God necessarily exists because he can do no other virtue of being the greatest conceivable being.
Overall argues that God is that than nothing greater can be conceived and since he is such as being, God's non-exsitance is inconceivable
Than that which nothing greater can be concieved
God is the sum of all perfections and no more perfect being can be described.
He is the most perfect being that exists and the most being who is conceivable.
He distinguished between exisiting only in the mind (in intellectu) and existing in reality (in re).
If God exists only in the mind then there may exist a being even greater in reality. Therefore he must exist in reality if he truly fulfils the definition
If he is the greatest thing that can be exists, it is impossible for him to not not exist. He is dependant of all beings and not limited by time or space. Therefore it is impossible to speak of him as having come to exist or ceasing to exist
Types of Arguments
It is an A priori argument, meaning that it is not based on experience but relies on one reason alone
It is deductive, meaning that if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be also true
It is an analytical argument, meaning that its true or falsity is based on the terms used
Made the point that the statement 'God does not exist' is not self-contradicting as it is a statement which can be true or false.
Any statement about an object can be self-contradicting, but if the object didn't exist in the first place then there was nothing to contradict
His second point was a statement saying: "exsistance is a predicate"
Argued that existence belonged analytically to God as three angles were analytically predicate of a triangle
A predicate is a defining characteristic of a thing or being - something that can be possessed or lacked)
For God to lack existence would be for him to lack perfection and hence not to be God.
However if 'existence' is not a predicate, then Descartes's approach fails. Some characteristics can be possessed or lacked and are part of the description of a thing or being
furthered the argument saying that since God is maximally great and perfect, he must exist in any and all conceivable worlds
He cannot be any different in any of those worlds
very nature of God means that if he does not exist necessarily he could not exist at all
it is contradictory to say that God does not exist, then he must exist necessarily
Arguments against the Ontological Argument
Gaunilo of Marmountiers claimed that the argument lead to absurd conclusions
Demonstrated a reductio ad absurdum by suggesting that he could conceive an island than which no greater could be conceived and so, according to Anselm's logical that the most perfect conceivable contains existence within its very definition, it must exist.
Anselm repsonded saying that his reasoning was intended to apply to only God, because things that are part of the contingent universe can be thought of as non-existing, whereas God cannot, since he alone possesses necessary existence
argues that 'exist' does not work in the same way as these adjectives and it cannot be listed when saying what God is like
He said that we have to be able to establish that something exists first before we can say what it is like, not the other way around
also argued that existence could act as a predicate claiming that it only has a propositional function. it asserts that there are beings in the world that answer to a particular description but it adds no further information about them. It converts nothing of their essence or nature. To say 'cows are brown and exist' says nothing more than 'cows are brown'
considered it a failure because it made a false assumption about existence
argued that existence could only ever be contingent and all statements about it could be denied without contradiction
Hume believed no form of existence could be analytically true
It has to be a simple matter of fact
suggested that the ontological proof also proves that God does not exist
He argued that the creation of the world is the most supreme achievement conceivable
Value of an achievement is measured by its intrinsic value and the ability of its creator
The greater the limitation of creation, the more impressive the achievment
The greatest limitation of a creator would be non-existence
Therefore a world created by a non-existent realtor must be greater than one created by an existing creator
An existing God isn't the greatest conceivable being as an even greater being would be one who did not exist.
God must no exist then
rejects it on the grounds that is infantile
the grand conclusion of God existing could lead to to 'logo-machist trickery that offends me aesthetically'
supports Betrand Russells argument that it is easier to believe the argument then to find out what really is going on
Strengths of the Ontological Argument
There is no need for empirical evidence to prove God's existence.
A strength of an a priori argument is that if you accept the premise then the conclusion must be true as it is logically necessary.
God must, by definition, exist. To accept on the one hand that God is 'that than which no greater can be conceived' and then to say that God doesn't exist is to make a logical error.
The argument is intellectually stimulating and logically satisfying
It forces the believer to consider carefully what they mean by the term God.
Plantinga: He starts his argument with a scientific hypothesis and so avoids the immediate problems associated with existence as a predicate and the rejection of the definition- is he only delaying it?
If the multiverse theory is proved correct then Plantinga's argument becomes mathematically and logically sound.
Weaknesses of the Ontological Argument
Limitation of an a priori argument is that if one premise is shown to be inaccurate the whole argument falls to pieces.
Kant: We can simply reject the definition.
Kant: Existence is not a predicate. If we add or take away existence from something, it does not change the definition. You cannot define God into existence.
Russell: You cannot say existence is predicate otherwise you could say this: 1. Men exist 2. Father Christmas is a man 3. Therefore Father Christmas exists. This is syllogism.
Russell: Anselm makes the Ontological Argument into an intention when really it is only a extension.
Davies: Accuses Anselm of turning an existence 'is' into a defining 'is'- Conflation!
Hume:Necessary existence is not a coherent concept as existence can only be contingent.
God's characteristics are contradictory e.g. an Omnipotent God could create a stone he couldn't lift.
If the multiverse theory is proved wrong then the whole argument falls apart.
If there are an infinite number of worlds with an infinite number of possibilities then there must be a world in which no God exists
The multiverse theory only says there is more than one universe not an infinite number and thus not an infinite number of possibilities.