April 21st, 2013
Interestingly, there is an argument used by atheists to demonstrate that God is impossible, which picks up on the ontological argument. This argument is traditionally called the reverse ontological argument. Instead of demonstrating that God a maximally great being that exists necessarily, the reverse form is used to demonstrate that God is impossible. To give a context for the atheistic argument here are the two most popular versions of the theistic ontological argument:
The Anselmian Ontological Argument (Theistic)
- God exists in the understanding
- God is a possible being
- If X exists only in the understanding and is a possible being, then X might have been greater
- Suppose God exists only in the understanding
- God might have been greater (2, 4, 3)
- God is a being than which a greater is not possible
- So, a being than which nothing greater is not possible is a being which is greater is possible
- Since 4 led to a contradiction 4 must be false
- God exists not only in the understanding alone—God exists in reality as well
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July 25th, 2012
Word of the Week: Unicornex
Definition: Let a unicorn be a magical horse with a horn protruding from the forehead. Let a unicornex be an existent unicorn. No non-existing thing is a unicornex. So, it’s true by obversion, some existing thing is a unicornex.
More about the term: Atheist philosopher of religion William Rowe argued that Anselm’s ontological argument (probably) begs the question. He used the example of a ‘unicorn’ and a ‘unicornex’ to display this charge of circular reasoning. This is what Rowe believes Anselm is doing by just defining God into existence.
July 12th, 2012
If God has a sufficient reason for permitting evil in some possible world then he has a sufficient reason in all possible worlds. Given simplicity, God is perfectly similar in every possible world we can conceive. He never wills differently, he never acts differently, he never knows differently, and he never loves differently. If modal realism is true and evil exists then the probability overall or on balance for justice is precisely 1. Thus, the problem of evil is an insufficient objection given whatever God’s interaction is in this world. It would be morally equivalent to his actions in other worlds with evil. If God is absolutely similar in all possible worlds and if he has a morally sufficient reason to permit evil in some possible world then he is morally justified in permitting evil in all possible worlds (even if some worlds are more bad than good because God would be acting towards the same telos). The following is a modified version of Alvin Plantinga’s ontological argument. In it I include the necessary entailment of a morally sufficient reason for permitting evil.
P1. The property of being maximally great is exemplified in some possible world.
P2. The property of being maximally great is equivalent, by definition, to the property of being maximally excellent in every possible world.
P3. The property of being maximally excellent entails the properties of omniscience and moral perfection.
P4. The property of moral perfection necessarily entails a morally sufficient reason for permitting states of affairs that are overall more evil than good.
P5. A universal property is one that is exemplified in every possible world or none.
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December 21st, 2011
Stephen Law has been setting forth his case for the evil God challenge. It has been a recent topic of discussion in the blogosphere and there have been several articles written about it. The argument is formulated in a way that mirrors the moral argument for the existence of God. If objective morality is true then this morality is grounded in God. Law argues that if objective evil is true then it is grounded in an evil God. (That’s the basic outline of the argument but please see more here). I haven’t read much of anyone’s responses to the challenge so I apologize if I’m repeating someone. I’ve been hesitant to participate in this discussion because I hoped it would pass over but here are my thoughts.
The reason why I waited so long to chime in on this discussion was because I didn’t think the argument was a very good argument. I have two primary contentions for why this is an incoherent argument. My first is that the argument requires there to be a genuine ontology for evil and my second follows Thomas Aquinas in that everyone always acts according to what they believe is right.
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July 29th, 2011
In 1974 Alvin Plantinga developed a modal version of the ontological argument, which is as follows:
- The property of being maximally great is exemplified in some possible world.
- The property of being maximally great is equivalent, by definition, to the property of being maximally excellent in every possible world.
- The property of being maximally excellent entails the properties of omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection.
- A universal property is one that is exemplified in every possible world or none.
- Any property that is equivalent to some property that holds in every possible world is a universal property.
- Therefore, there exists a being that is essentially omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect (God).
Ax =df x is maximally great
Bx =df x is maximally excellent
W(Y) =df Y is a universal property
Ox =df x is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect
1 ◊(∃x)Ax pr