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Author Topic:   Ontological arguments - where's the beef?
Larni
Member
Posts: 4000
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 31 of 74 (632210)
09-06-2011 11:09 AM
Reply to: Message 30 by Bolder-dash
09-06-2011 10:37 AM


Re: my short response:
What evidence could one give of something being possible, without actually demonstrating something to be?

Something being present is cast iron evidence that 'it' exists but something not being present is not evidence that it does not exist.

Simply that it is not there.

So if the maximal being is presented one can say 'yes he exist in 100% possiblity'.

If the maximal being is not present the most you can say is 'I don't know if he exists'.

If on the other hand you searched under every rock in the universe at every point in time and found no maximal being, what could we say then?


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Dr Adequate
Member (Idle past 73 days)
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 32 of 74 (632214)
09-06-2011 11:20 AM
Reply to: Message 30 by Bolder-dash
09-06-2011 10:37 AM


Re: my short response:
What evidence could one give of something being possible, without actually demonstrating something to be? If you have already shown something to "be" why would one need the redundant concept of "being possible" when the definition you are presenting for being possible is showing that it IS?

Well, take his example of a pack of cards. Pick a card, any card, from a standard deck. Without looking at it, shuffle it back in. It is demonstrably possible that it was the Jack of Hearts, but it is impossible to show that this is the case.

---

The trouble is that when we say something is possible we can mean various things, and it's not clear what we're being asked to stipulate in step (1).

For example, it could mean that it's consistent with the way (I think) the world works, but outside my knowledge (as, for example, it is possible in this sense that the card was the Jack of Hearts but not the Hanged Man, since that only occurs in tarot decks).

Or it could mean that it's feasible in principle but known not to be the case (it is possible for me to post on these forums while wearing a cowboy hat, but I do not do so).

Or it could mean that although it is impossible according to the way (I think) the universe works, it is conceivable, like a magician turning me into a frog; that is, it is not logically impossible.

Or it could mean that we're playing along with it for the sake of argument. It might be that if all the terms were defined, and we examined them carefully, we'd find that a "maximally great being" was logically inconsistent, like a four-sided triangle, or inconsistent with some direct observation, and all we mean to say in step (1) if we concede that it's "possible" is: "Yes, OK, let's not be narrow-minded about this ... do go on, Mr Plantinga."

Or ... ?

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 33 of 74 (632218)
09-06-2011 11:32 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by cavediver
09-05-2011 4:26 PM


You can't just sidle in here, nonchantly trying to make it look as if you haven't taken the year out...

Dang. I was hoping to pop in and out unnoticed.

-

It [the logical problems of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity] always gave me problems.

I don't recall this presenting any problems for me when I was a Christian. I was prepared to accept the ineffableness of the deity. In fact, even as an atheist I thing there are some things about the universe that I am simply unable to comprehend. The idea of a "beginning" of the universe, for example.

I was mostly talking about those who would use logic to prove the existence of their deity, but then shy away from how that very logic also should show that their conception of a deity is self-contradictory.

-

Anyway, hope you stick around...

Thanks.


You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. -- Abbie Hoffman

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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 34 of 74 (632219)
09-06-2011 11:39 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by cavediver
09-03-2011 4:59 PM


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

I think that this is really where it all goes wrong. I haven't actually read Platinga's work, just a few articles on Wikipedia, so maybe it isn't as bad as it sounds.

But to me, I suspect that the concepts of "maximally great," "possible world," and "existing in a possible world" are not well-defined and not rigorous enough to actually work in a logical proof. I'm actually thinking of set theory before Zermelo-Frankel when Russell's paradox showed that you can't just slap words together and think you're saying something sensible.

I suppose that one can axiomatize the system so that the proof works; in fact, we can accept that some of the premises themselves are axioms. However, we can alway axiomatize anything; getting something that is useful is another thing. It's not clear to me that any way of rigorously defining these ideas will lead to anything sensible, and if it does, whether it is really relevant to the real world.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Fixed typo.


You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. -- Abbie Hoffman

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Modulous
Member (Idle past 1126 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 35 of 74 (632223)
09-06-2011 12:48 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by Bolder-dash
09-06-2011 10:37 AM


Re: my short response:
What evidence could one give of something being possible, without actually demonstrating something to be?

It depends on the thing under question, but I gave the example of a pack of cards.

If you want to complain that in the case of a MGB it is difficult or impossible to prove it is possible then that's not my problem since I'm not the one claiming that it is possible.


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PaulK
Member
Posts: 17008
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 36 of 74 (632225)
09-06-2011 12:55 PM
Reply to: Message 34 by Chiroptera
09-06-2011 11:39 AM


Re: gooey premises
I think the biggest problem in the definitions is that of necessity.

If necessity is conceived of as logical necessity, then the being referred to really does have to be logically necessary from it's other properties or the definition is self-contradictory and therefore logically impossible. And if we had good reason to think that the proposed "God" (a "maximally excellent" being IIRC) really was logically necessary, Plantinga's argument would be redundant. So, in this case we should conclude that the proposed entity is probably impossible.

If some other sense of necessity is meant we still have questions. Obviously we cannot define things into existence simply by adding necessity to the definition. We cannot dictate reality by such simple word games. So clearly beings defined as "necessary" are impossible, more often than not. And then we have to justify whatever concept of necessity is considered, and give reasons why it should be expected to apply to the proposed entity but cannot be applied to anything else.

So all in all, it seems to me that it is very unlikely that any proposed necessary being really is necessary.

Which leads us to the other problem with Plantinga's argument. It can easily be reversed. All we need to do is consider it to be possible that a Maximally Great Being does NOT exist. If we grant that, it follows that a Maximally Great Being does not exist !

From the arguments I have given it seems clear to me that we should favour the idea that a Maximally Great being possibly does not exist over the idea that it possibly does (because impossibility is more likely than necessity). Therefore Plantinga's argument weighs against the existence of God. At least to the extent it should be taken seriously.

Personally I think its main importance is in revealing the intellectual bankruptcy of religious philosophy - at least on the theistic side.


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 1126 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 37 of 74 (632226)
09-06-2011 12:56 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Bolder-dash
09-06-2011 12:13 AM


Re: my short response:
I should think then, by your terms, that things exist as either proven or not, and the whole use of the word "possible" is pointless.

No, that's not correct. You must have misunderstood my terms. Unfortunately, since you did not bother to explain in this post I cannot attempt to explain your misunderstanding.


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Phat
Member
Posts: 15642
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003


Message 38 of 74 (632229)
09-06-2011 1:21 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by bluegenes
09-04-2011 2:23 PM


Can human wisdom cause a Deity not to exist?
bluegenes writes:

-If it is possible that a maximally great being doesn't exist, then in at least one possible world no such being would be necessary.

-By definition, in order to be maximally great, the being must necessarily exist in all possible worlds.

-Therefore, a maximally great being cannot exist in any world it if could not exist in one.

Taking a non critical position that the Bible contains wisdom, I will quote a couple of passages from Revelation: (Default position: Assuming a spiritual reality exists and that humans have, for the moment, freewill)

quote:
Rev 1:4-5---
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (NIV)

...seems to indicate a God who is (present moment) and who was (either forever or at a set past moment) and who is to come (indicating a point in the future)..... and from Jesus...firstborn from the dead (indicating a human who was born and then died)

quote:
Rev 1:8---
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
Sounds like the father God talking at us there! Never born, never dies, exists in this particular world....right? (given that the people of that time knew of no other worlds anyway. )

quote:
Rev 1:12-15
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
Sounds like a human, or at least an observable character....

quote:
Rev 1:17-18
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

For all you Trinitarian fans out there, we have two characters...both first and lasts. One died and is now alive. One just plain existed from all eternity... Now lets add the villain!

Rev 11:7 writes:

7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.

Now we have this beast. Funny...we also have a dragon.

Rev 12:7-9-- And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Indeed.

Rev 13:1-6 writes:

-- And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.

And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. .


OK, so without getting too interpretive, it seems we have our showdown. A God who exists in all possible worlds..and His son who died and yet lives. A Dragon who got kicked out of heaven and who has his boy, the Beast. Now for the verse that illustrates my point!

Rev 17:8 writes:

The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.

Interestingly, we have two contradictions. One was, is, and will come. The other was, is not and yet will come.

The onus of existing in all possible worlds except one, to me, means that the people themselves decide by their beliefs if said Deity need exist in their world or not.

What would be some reasons that a Deity would be unnecessary?

Could a Deity exist despite my belief that such a critter is un necessary?

By declaring a Deity un necessary, am I worshiping a Beast, or, at this present moment, such a critter is also un necessary??

Just some food for thought!


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1.61803
Member (Idle past 525 days)
Posts: 2928
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004


Message 39 of 74 (632254)
09-06-2011 4:27 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by cavediver
09-03-2011 4:59 PM


God of the gaps is not a substitute for scientific knowlege, but a place holder for ignorance. Not knowing is imo what makes learning possible. If humans were born with all the knowlege of the universe already pre loaded in our brains, what would be the point in pondering anything.

I had a dream last night that was so real, I could not tell it was a dream. I could have sworn it was reality, up untll the point where I woke up. How can one say with full confidence that god does not exist, just as one can not say (while dreaming) this is not my reality. Cartesian thinking? Yes, this has all been covered before.

Perhaps the very nature of reality is that it defies explaination. Sort of like how at the lowest known level of measurement, we can not know all the information. We make it up as we go along.

If this universe turns out to be like a 2D /First person reality game being converted into a multi-dimentional simulation. I will laugh my ass off because the next question will be who is the programmer?


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Dawn Bertot
Member (Idle past 522 days)
Posts: 3571
Joined: 11-23-2007


Message 40 of 74 (632255)
09-06-2011 4:31 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by Modulous
09-06-2011 10:30 AM


Re: my short response:
No. It is neither ruled out nor ruled in. Nothing we know says that it is impossible and nothing we know says it is possible.

Still this sentence makes no sense. If it is not impossible of course its possible

If by MGB you mean an eternal God, then of course my argument would be valid. If by MGB you mean something less than an eternal God, then of course that being already exists, whether its George Bush or some alien with the most power

either way its very possible

Because there are things that exist that are not consistent with an eternal character? I'm sorry that is a non-sequitur.

Of course its not. Until you can demonstrate, prove the universe is eternal in character, there is very little reason to assume it is, given its nature, so logically the reasonable possibilty is an eternal God

It would be unreasonable to assume IT came from absolute nothingness

I dont see how thats not atleast a reasonsble possibility. Atleast you havent did anything except assert it is not

If its not impossible to draw all Aces out of your deck ten consecutively, then that means its possible, regardless of how ever improbable, correct
Dawn Bertot

Edited by Dawn Bertot, : No reason given.

Edited by Dawn Bertot, : No reason given.

Edited by Dawn Bertot, : No reason given.

Edited by Dawn Bertot, : No reason given.


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 1126 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 41 of 74 (632256)
09-06-2011 4:40 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Dawn Bertot
09-06-2011 4:31 PM


Re: my short response:
If it is not impossible of course its possible

Yes, that's the equivocation. Just because we don't know that it is impossible does not mean that we therefore know it is possible.

Sure it does. If by MGB being you mean an eternal God, then of course my argument would be valid.

Why? That's the part you've skipped over. What is it about the nature of things, change, disorder and chaos and eventually death says that God is possible. Be explicit.

Until you can demonstrate, prove the universe is eternal in character, there is very little reason to assume it is, given its nature, so logically the reasonable possibilty is an eternal God

I don't assume the universe is eternal in nature. Why does it logically follow from this that an eternal God is possible? Please show me the logic, not the assertions.

I dont see how thats not atleast a reasonsble possibility. Atleast you havent did anything except assert it is not

I've not asserted that it is not a reasonable possibility, I've asked for those that have asserted that it is a possibility to show that it is a possibility.

If its not impossible to draw all Aces out of your deck ten consecutively, then that means its possible, regardless of how ever improbable, correct

Correct. We can do the maths, to show that it is possible and with what probability. Can you do the math to show that God is possible?

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


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Dawn Bertot
Member (Idle past 522 days)
Posts: 3571
Joined: 11-23-2007


Message 42 of 74 (632257)
09-06-2011 4:42 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by Modulous
09-06-2011 4:40 PM


Re: my short response:
If its not impossible to draw all Aces out of your deck ten times consecutively, then that means its possible, regardless of how ever improbable, correct?

Ill get to your other post in a few

Dawn Bertot


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Dawn Bertot
Member (Idle past 522 days)
Posts: 3571
Joined: 11-23-2007


Message 43 of 74 (632258)
09-06-2011 4:50 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by Modulous
09-06-2011 4:40 PM


Re: my short response:
Yes, that's the equivocation. Just because we don't know that it is impossible does not mean that we therefore know it is possible.

This statement is less an equivocation and more of a logical contradiction. if something is not impossible, what other area could it fall in except possible. That is even if you dont see the possiblity, how could it be anything less than possible

Oh no here we go again

Dawn Bertot


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Replies to this message:
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Dawn Bertot
Member (Idle past 522 days)
Posts: 3571
Joined: 11-23-2007


Message 44 of 74 (632259)
09-06-2011 5:11 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by Modulous
09-06-2011 4:40 PM


Re: my short response:
I've not asserted that it is not a reasonable possibility, I've asked for those that have asserted that it is a possibility to show that it is a possibility.

I believe that is all that is involved in showing it is possible, is to demonstrate it is only one of two choices and it doesnt directly contradict itself. What more do I need for it to show that its a possibility


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 1126 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 45 of 74 (632261)
09-06-2011 5:24 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by Dawn Bertot
09-06-2011 4:50 PM


Re: my short response:
if something is not impossible, what other area could it fall in except possible.

Do you know that it is not impossible. If you do, how have you established that? It's the same question, asked with the negatives, as 'how do you know that it is possible?'

So how do you know that it is not impossible?

I believe that is all that is involved in showing it is possible, is to demonstrate it is only one of two choices and it doesnt directly contradict itself. What more do I need for it to show that its a possibility

Establishing that it doesn't contradict itself doesn't show that it is in fact possible. It might be possible, but then again, it might be impossible. If it was self-contradictory, it would definitely be impossible. If it is not self-contradictory, it still might not be possible (other facts may rule it out).

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


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Replies to this message:
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