the ontological argument

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the ontological argument

Postby TerraFrost » Sat Jul 19, 2003 7:43 am

the ontological argument attempts to prove gods existence through logic, and goes something like this...

1. assume god is perfect
2. assume that if god is perfect, god exists.
3. demonstrate that god exists.

now, at this point, we can directly prove god's existence. the conditional statement of the second assertion has been established as true, by the first assertion, so... god's existence can be proven. however, the ontological argument goes one step further, and proves that god exists by means of an indirect proof, in an attempt to demonstrate the supposed absurdity of the athiesm.

so... continuing...

4. assume that god doesn't exist (assumption made for indirect proof)
5. god isn't perfect (we obtain this by a modus tollens with the fourth statement, and the second statement)
6. god exists (because we have a contradiction with the first statement, we can assume anything, so we assume that which will conclude the proof)

so... that's pretty much the ontological argument... and it is infact a tautology - a statement that is always true... here's the representation of it in symbolic logic: (a && (a -> b)) -> b. so, anyways, the logic can't be attacked. instead, we have to attempt to invalidate the assertions. in essence, turn (a && (a -> b)) -> b into (a -> b) -> b, which is the logical fallacy of circular reasoning, a -> b, which is what only arguments can establish, or invalidate both assertions, leaving us with just b, which is a completly out of the blue statement. so that's just what i'll do - attack the assertions.

and the problem with them is... what exactly is it to be perfect? if an athiest said that god is perfect, that doesn't mean that he thinks god exists, because if he did, he obviously wouldn't be an athiest. thus, an athiests definition of perfection isn't going to include existence. if it did, an athiest wouldn't say god is perfect. perhapes an athiest might say god is *supposed* to be perfect, but "supposing perfection" and actually being perfect are two very different things. now, an athiest may well agree with both assertions, but... from an athiestic standpoint, both assertions are inherently contradictory - and unless they're being used to close a proof you can't prove anything (or, alternatively, you can prove everything - even things that simply do not exist). to elaborate on that, in an indirect proof, you assume the opposite for the sole purpose of proving something indirectly. thus, you can't use a contradiction outside of a proof. so, unless you close the proof, you'll never finish the proof. thus, the only thing you can proof is what you are trying to prove. further, this establishes that you can not prove god exists to an athiest using the ontological argument.

so... that's my counter to that :)
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Postby Gigafrost » Sat Jul 19, 2003 3:33 pm

I think my counter to the ontological argument is something you skimmed the surface of, so I'll just post these thoughts...

It seems to me that statement #1 is circular reasoning. If you think about it, it's saying that God *is* perfect, which is actually a very misleading term. Worded as it is, regardless of whether "existance" is a part of perfection or not, the statement itself already implies that God exists.

Although there are people who disagree with me...that it says that the first line is only describing a property of God. Okay, that's perfectly reasonable, but the argument falls apart when you do that, as the real meaning of the argument is shown and the logical holes can be easily seen...

1. assume the definition of god includes perfection
2. assume that if god is defined to be perfect, god is defined to exist.
3. demonstrate that god exists.

Okay, 1 and 2 were updated to reflect what they mean more precisely. You can already see that #3 is meaningless, as we can only demonstrate that god is defined to exist. Of course, we could also add another line before the 3...

2.5. If God exists then by definition God has to be perfect.

But the ironic thing about this is that it's a dead end...we've just gone in a circle. But ah well.

Well, lines 4-6 can stand on their own anyways without #3 so I'll look at those.

4. assume that god doesn't exist (assumption made for indirect proof)

For starters, once you look at what you're really arguing up at top, you'll notice that we're not really talking about if god already exists or not, but we're talking about if God has that property if God also has the property of perfection. Now, if we assume that God doesn't exist and we get that God isn't perfect, it cannot contradict anything from the first 3 lines anymore. If we modify it to work on "the definition" then all we end up with is "God is defined to exist"...

I'm fairly sure there's going to be somebody who sees that and says "but if God is designed to exist doesn't that mean God does?" To you, no, it doesn't. Let me define the idea of a gishrack...

A gishrack, by definition, is a little green goblin that dances on your keyboard and eats all your favorite snacks before you can get to them. A gishrack, by definition, is a creature that is created when somebody reads this definition. A gishrack, by definition, is something that exists.

Now, you'll notice that the definition of a gishrack says that it exists. Do you see a little goblin dancing in front of you? The point is, defining something to exist doesn't mean it does exist. So, likewise, just because God has the property of "existing" that doesn't mean that there actually exists something that fits this definition of God.

Anyways, I'll stop blabbering now...
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Postby Neerowolf » Sat Jul 19, 2003 7:01 pm

woo! gods the best! and go gishrack! its the best!
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Postby shahmask » Sun Jul 20, 2003 7:21 am

ya'll have toooooo much time on your hands.:)
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