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Author Topic:   Ontological arguments - where's the beef?
Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 74 (632048)
09-05-2011 1:14 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by cavediver
09-03-2011 4:59 PM


My first impression was simple confirmation of something I had long suspected: logic in the hands of philosophers tends to result in the use of very precise and well defined rules to push around exceptionally nebulous and ill-defined concepts.

I don't know enough about the practice of modern philosophy to know whether this really characterizes philosophers as a group, but it is certainly true of a large subset of philosophers -- both professionals like Platinga and armchair philosophers like contemporary creationists.

Using pure reason is a faulty method of acquiring knowledge about the real world. That's been known for centuries -- at least known outside of philosophy departments and seminaries. Logical arguments are no better than the premises upon which they are built, and we have no a priori knowledge of which premises are true and which are not. Just about every logical argument for the existence of God (and for the non-existence of God) has always been unsatisfying precisely because there were assumptions that I either disagreed with or had doubts about.

It's been know for centuries that the conclusions of one's arguments must be checked with the real world. Either God exists or it does not, regardless of one's purely logical arguments. In fact, modern science doesn't acquire knowledge by reaching deductive conclusions; rather to uses conclusions as predictions in order to test the premises (the theories). After deducing a conclusion (a prediction from an observation campaign), one then checks whether the conclusion is, in fact, true in the real world; in that way, the scientist acquires knowledge about the validity of the theories that comprise the premises.

Philosophers have it backwards. Instead of reaching the conclusion that God exists and then deciding that, yes, God must exist, they should be then checking whether or not God actually does exist in the real world. If he does not, then they have discovered a problem in their premises. If he does, then the knowledge that they have acquired is that their premises much actually be true.

--

Incidentally, evangelical Christians aren't even intellectually honest in their use of logic. Their concept of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity is logically contradictory. Most of them even admit it. If they really believed in the use of logic, then they would actually conclude that their logical system is contradictory and useless for arriving at truth values.


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:
 Message 1 by cavediver, posted 09-03-2011 4:59 PM cavediver has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by cavediver, posted 09-05-2011 4:26 PM Chiroptera has responded

  
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

This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by cavediver, posted 09-05-2011 4:26 PM cavediver has not yet responded

  
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:
 Message 1 by cavediver, posted 09-03-2011 4:59 PM cavediver has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 36 by PaulK, posted 09-06-2011 12:55 PM Chiroptera has not yet responded

  
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