Monday, March 30, 2009

The Ontological Argument

The ontological argument is another argument put forward to try to say that God exists. It goes like this,

1) God is perceived as a being of perfection.
2) Existence is apart of being perfect.
3) If God did not exist he would in fact not be a perfect being.
4) Thus by necessity, God exists.

Is an argument like this really that valid? Is a play on words that could perhaps add up on a logical level, be sufficient to establish God's existence?


BrooklynWolf said...

I think I lost you at #3. So, say He doesn't exist. Then the consequence of His being a Perfect Being doesn't matter one way or the other.

Or am I missing something?

The Wolf

(NB: I do believe God exists).

SJ said...

3 is it would be a contradiction to say that God is thought of as a perfect being yet he don't exist so since God thought of as a perfect being he has to exist (4).

Garnel Ironheart said...

What are you doing, messing with concepts you don't understand and words you can't pronounce?

First of all, there isn't one ontological argument, there are multiple ones. Look it up on Wikipedia.

Secondly, they're all circular. They make logical sense but when you take a step back, you can enter the argument at any point in the circle and come to the same conclusion. As a result, they've been mostly discredited or ignored over time.

On the other hand, having disproved the ontological argument, you now have to support your disproof:

To wit: the common features of the arguments run like this:

Something in the universe must be the greatest thing out there.
God, by definition, is the greatest thing out there.
Therefore there is a God.

Now, it seems easy to shatter that argument off the top: who says God is greater than anything? But the response is: in any system, there is something at the top. Take a bunch of weight lifters. Someone will be the strongest. Take a bunch of speed skaters. Someone will be the fastest.
Now take the contents of the universe. Something will be the bestest (I hate that word but it seemed unavoidable). That thing, whatever it is, becomes God when you define God as the best thing out there.

So if you want to disprove ontology, you have to prove that something out there isn't the most powerful thing in the universe. Good luck with that.

But this is all irrelevant to Judaism. Proving God exists through ontology doesn't prove that He created the world and gave us the Torah. So what do you care?

SJ said...

Garnel, I was only interested in giving a summary of the ontological argument. I am aware that nuances exist.

Secondly you did seem to miss the point with regard to the premise of the ontological, namely that it starts off from a foundation of perception, not what is extant in actuality.

>> Secondly, they're all circular. They make logical sense ...

You feeling ok Garnel?

Garnel Ironheart said...

Firstly, who can define actuality? I would submit that everything is perception. After all, in reality I walk outside and I don't notice anything bad happening to my body. If my eyes could perceive light in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum I would see how it's burning my skin and creating radiation damage.
So there is no true actuality, just everyone's perception which they assume is the truth because it's all they can perceive.

SJ said...

Garnel, your post does state one possible viewpoint that people can take. Though, you would probably enjoy reading Rene Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, it discusses ideas that you bring up in your latest post here.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Nice format change.

SJ said...

thank you.

Joshua said...

Garnel, there's no need for a "greatest" or "bestest" anything. There's no largest integer for example.