Arguments for God’s Existence: The Ontological Argument

Guest post by billybob

Betrand Russell once exclaimed “Great God in Boots!—the ontological argument is sound!” Not sure what he was smoking that day, but it must have been some pretty good shit. The ontological argument is an attempt to prove God by logic, and I will evaluate the version used by William Lane Craig:

1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.
2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
7. Therefore, God exists.

Convinced? Let’s start with the first line:

1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists

The “It is possible” simply plays on the fact that our knowledge is limited, so you can’t say that a God or a maximally great galaxy eating troll does not exist as you would have to prove a negative. Line 1 does not say it is definite that a maximally great being (God) exists; therefore, 1. a) logically follows:

1. a) “It is possible a maximally great being (God) does not exist”

Going one step further, let’s substitute one of the following for “being”:

– penis

– vagina

– 300′ tall reptile

– anything you make up in the next minute

– good being

– evil being

So if the logic of the ontological argument is valid, a maximally great Godzilla is real: run for your lives! What the hell does maximally great mean, maximally great to whom and compared to what, and what are its attributes? The words essentially have no real meaning without some context, if at all. What is the length and girth of a maximally great penis? Maybe we should ask a porn star.

I should stop now as the argument is obviously flawed, but I am a bit of a masochist so onward.

Second Line

2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

2. a)“If it is possible that a maximally great being does not exist, then a maximally great being does not exist in some possible world”

How does saying, “If it is possible that a maximally great being exists” logically justify “then a maximally great being exists in some possible world”? Why does someone claiming something is possible mean that it is actually a fact in some world? It does not follow. If the logic in this line is valid, then everything anyone can think of exists in some possible world.

2. b) If it is possible that a maximally great planet-eating-vorpal-dragon-kitten exists, then a maximally great planet-eating-vorpal-dragon-kitten exists in some possible world.

Third Line

3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

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

It seems that this line means if maximally great being exists, it is so great that it would have to exist in all possible worlds. Why? This line gives character to a maximally great being that wants to be everywhere. Other than the fact that the argument fails if it doesn’t want to occupy every world, why would a maximally great being exist in every possible world. Maybe it hates some worlds? This is the human trait of seeking power, already the argument is anthropomorphic, what the maximally great being would want is to be all powerful, it wants what we want. Maybe it would just want to sit in one world and smoke a maximally great spliff.

Do I really have to continue? My brain hurts, and the stupid is just overwhelming. I need a drink; it is the only way to continue discussing this nonsense.

—————–

Now I can continue my mind has been numbed.

Line 4

4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

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

It must mean that our world is one of the possible worlds. I guess Craig is talking about a multi-verse, and if a maximally great being exists in all the possible worlds in a multi-verse, then one of them is our actual universe. This is almost the same as line 3 and Craig uses sleight of hand by conflating possible world and actual world so that our universe becomes the subject of the argument: are there multiple possible worlds? Craig obviously must accept some form of a multi-verse hypothesis even if there is not a lot of proof for it.

Lines 5-7

5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.

5. a) Therefore, a maximally great being does not exist in the actual world.

6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

6. a) Therefore, a maximally great being does not exist.

7. Therefore, God exists.

7. a) Therefore, God does not exist.

Lines 5-7 sum up Craig’s proof that god exists or in the a) version that god does not exist. Therefore God both exists and does not exist. Like a negative and positive, the arguments neutralize each other.

Conclusion

The ontological argument convinces only those who desperately want to believe because it suffers from at least three flaws. It is a convoluted version of the god of the gaps argument, uses imprecise and superlative words with no context and commits errors of logic.

A typical god of the gaps argument is “you don’t know how x occurred so god did it” Craig turns this into “you don’t know everything so god is possible.” Craig uses the fact that our limited knowledge cannot prove a god or gods do not exist. No rational person could go through life believing everything is possible, they would have to believe in all gods, fairies and goblins. What can be proven by evidence to exist exists; everything else is an abstract concept.

What is a “maximally great being”? Without a description of the being, the words are so vague that they are meaningless. Maximally great is a comparative phrase that has no real meaning without context, someone could say Ms. X is the greatest, greatest at what, greater than whom? Why would a maximally great being (god) need worshippers: is it maximally insecure?

The basic format of the argument is if x is possible, then x is actual. Why? Because if there are an infinite number of possible worlds anything is possible? This is fantasy speak. How do we know there are an infinite number of possible worlds and even if there are does anything we imagine to exist in one of those hypothetical worlds, exist? Craig’s version of the ontological argument is based on there being multiple possible worlds; actually, he needs an infinite amount of worlds because in a finite number of worlds a maximally great being may not exist. Insert a number of worlds “then a maximally great being exists in 1 of 3 possible worlds.”That sounds silly: what worlds? Craig needs the vagueness of “every possible world” to support his assertion.

Where did these possible worlds come from? Do they already exist and who created them? The line “then a maximally great being exists in some possible world” assumes that the possible worlds already exist. The worlds already exist and the maximally great being is an inhabitant of the possible world? If Craig’s god is the maximally great being where did the worlds where it exists come from? The argument assumes that either there is a “possible world” created by a maximally, maximally great creator god, the “possible worlds” have always existed or the maximally great being created the “possible worlds” and created itself? Did the maximally great being exist before the worlds? Very confusing, not sure of the logic of this if there is any. Essentially “some possible world” assumes some possible world already exists. If the maximally great being created the possible worlds it exists in, then the argument assumes god from the beginning by using the phrase “some possible worlds” (created by a maximally great being (god)).

The ontological argument fails: possible ≠ actual.

Note: I will get started on the next argument for God; it seems God can only be found in words not deeds.

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