• The Meditations by Descartes: The Existence of God and the Argument From Evil
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[QUOTE="The God Delusion"]Another philosopher, the Australian Douglas Gasking, made the point with his ironic 'proof that God does not exist (Anselm's contemporary Gaunilo had suggested a somewhat similar reductio). 1. The creation of the world is the most marvellous achievement imaginable. 2. The merit of an achievement is the product of (a) its intrinsic quality, and (b) the ability of its creator. 3. The greater the disability (or handicap) of the creator, the more impressive the achievement. 4. The most formidable handicap for a creator would be nonexistence. 5. Therefore if we suppose that the universe is the product of an existent creator we can conceive a greater being - namely, one who created everything while not existing. 6. An existing God therefore would not be a being greater than which a greater cannot be conceived because an even more formidable and incredible creator would be a God which did not exist. Ergo: 7. God does not exist. Needless to say, Gasking didn't really prove that God does not exist. By the same token, Anselm didn't prove that he does. The only difference is, Gasking was being funny on purpose. As he realized, the existence or non-existence of God is too big a question to be decided by 'dialectical prestidigitation'. And I don't think the slippery use of existence as an indicator of perfection is the worst of the argument's problems. I've forgotten the details, but I once piqued a gathering of theologians and philosophers by adapting the ontological argument to prove that pigs can fly. They felt the need to resort to Modal Logic to prove that I was wrong.[/QUOTE] E: I might as well quote the rest of the section that Dawkins argues against Anslem's little play on words. [QUOTE="The God Delusion"]Arguments for God's existence fall into two main categories, the apriori and the a posteriori. Thomas Aquina s' five are a posteriori arguments, relying upon inspection of the world. The most famous of the a priori arguments, those that rely upon pure armchair ratiocination, is the ontological argument, proposed by St Anselm of Canterbury in 1078 and restated in different forms by numerous philosophers ever since. An odd aspect of Anselm's argument is that it was originally addressed not to humans but to God himself, in the form of a prayer (you'd think that any entity capable of listening to a prayer would need no convincing of his own existence). It is possible to conceive, Anselm said, of a being than which nothing greater can be conceived. Even an atheist can conceive of such a superlative being, though he would deny its existence in the real world. But, goes the argument, a being that doesn't exist in the real world is, by that very fact, less than perfect. Therefore we have a contradiction and, hey presto, God exists! Let me translate this infantile argument into the appropriate language, which is the language of the playground: 'Bet you I can prove God exists.' 'Bet you can't.' 'Right then, imagine the most perfect perfect perfect thing possible.' 'Okay, now what?' 'Now, is that perfect perfect perfect thing real? Does it exist?' 'No, it's only in my mind.' 'But if it was real it would be even more perfect, because a really really perfect thing would have to be better than a silly old imaginary thing. So I've proved that God exists. Nur Nurny Nur Nur. All atheists are fools.' I had my childish wiseacre choose the word 'fools' advisedly. Anselm himself quoted the first verse of Psalm 14, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,' and he had the cheek to use the name 'fool' (Latin insipiens) for his hypothetical atheist: Hence, even the fool is convinced that something exists in the understanding, at least, than which nothing greater can be conceived. For, when he hears of this, he understands it. And whatever is understood, exists in the understanding. And assuredly that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot exist in the understanding alone. For, suppose it exists in the understanding alone: then it can be conceived to exist in reality; which is greater.” The very idea that grand conclusions could follow from such logomachist trickery offends me aesthetically, so I must take care to refrain from bandying words like 'fool'. Bertrand Russell (no fool) interestingly said, 'It is easier to feel convinced that [the ontological argument] must be fallacious than it is to find out precisely where the fallacy lies.' Russell himself, as a young man, was briefly convinced by it: I remember the precise moment, one day in 1894, as I was walking along Trinity Lane, when I saw in a flash (or thought I saw) that the ontological argument is valid. I had gone out to buy a tin of tobacco; on my way back, I suddenly threw it up in the air, and exclaimed as I caught it: 'Great Scott, the ontological argument is sound.' Why, I wonder, didn't he say something like: 'Great Scott, the ontological argument seems to be plausible. But isn't it too good to be true that a grand truth about the cosmos should follow from a mere word game? I'd better set to work to resolve what is perhaps a paradox like those of Zeno.' The Greeks had a hard time seeing through Zeno's 'proof that Achilles would never catch the tortoise.* But they had the sense not to conclude that therefore * Zeno's paradox is too well known for the details to be promoted out of a footnote. Achilles can run ten times as fast as the tortoise, so he gives the animal, say,100 yards' start. Achilles runs 100 yards, and the tortoise is now 10 yards ahead. Achilles runs the 10 yards and the tortoise is now 1 yard ahead. Achilles runs the 1 yard, and the tortoise is still a tenth of a yard ahead . . . and so on ad infinitum, so Achilles never catches the tortoise. Achilles really would fail to catch the tortoise. Instead, they called it a paradox and waited for later generations of mathematicians to explain it (with, as it turned out, the theory of infinite series converging on a limiting value). Russell himself, of course, was as well qualified as anyone to understand why no tobacco tins should be thrown up in celebration of Achilles' failure to catch the tortoise. Why didn't he exercise the same caution over St Anselm? I suspect that he was an exaggeratedly fair-minded atheist, over-eager to be disillusioned if logic seemed to require it.* Or perhaps the answer lies in something Russell himself wrote in 1946, long after he had rumbled the ontological argument: The real question is: Is there anything we can think of which, by the mere fact that we can think of it, is shown to exist outside our thought? Every philosopher would like to say yes, because a philosopher's job is to find out things about the world by thinking rather than observing. If yes is the right answer, there is a bridge from pure thought to things. If not, not. My own feeling, to the contrary, would have been an automatic, deep suspicion of any line of reasoning that reached such a significant conclusion without feeding in a single piece of data from the real world. Perhaps that indicates no more than that I am a scientist rather than a philosopher. Philosophers down the centuries have indeed taken the ontological argument seriously, both for and against. The atheist philosopher J. L. Mackie gives a particularly clear discussion in The Miracle of Theism. I mean it as a compliment when I say that you could almost define a philosopher as someone who won't take common sense for an answer. The most definitive refutations of the ontological argument areusually attributed to the philosophers David Hume (1711-76) andImmanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kant identified the trick card upAnselm's sleeve as his slippery assumption that 'existence' is more'perfect' than non-existence. The American philosopher Norman Malcolm put it like this: 'The doctrine that existence is a perfectionis remarkably queer. It makes sense and is true to say that my futurehouse will be a better one if it is insulated than if it is not insulated; but what could it mean to say that it will be a better house if itexists than if it does not?'[/QUOTE]
[QUOTE=fluke42;34526483]Descartes thought the same thing.[/QUOTE] I just think that God (being a symbol of goodness, like Jesus) would only wish that Humans do what's right by them, making God proud in a way. That would be me squeezing my beliefs into a single sentence.
Isn't the essential answer to the Anseln argument that god is essentially existance. From the logical standpoint that it is an omnipotent entity, it is all encompassing and cannot be held outside of the system. It's essentially taking the entire system and calling it such. Hence being all encompassing it includes both good and evil and is strictly neutral to both as the system cannot really influence itself.
That's not Anselm's argument though. Saying that everything = god is philosophically trivial because all you're doing is defining something as such.
[I]Existence[/I] is [B]NOT[/B] a [I]predicate[/I].
Just as someone already said. The Cartesian argument for the existence of god was disproved a while ago by Kant.
The best answer I've heard in relation to it is that reality does not have to adhere to the logic of the human brain. Our minds and our logic is only a best guess system and it makes about as much sense bringing it to that conclusion as dividing by zero giving a depiction of infinity in reality. Our imaginations least of all shoud be relied upon for logic as it is the least influenced by logic.
Erm guys, the Meditations isn't the proof for the existence of God. You seem to be getting confused with Anselm's argument or something because there's very little in the way of proof for God's existence in it. He appeals to the concept of God in order to prove the world must exist, but as far as I'm aware he doesn't attempt to prove that. It's one of the main dissatisfactions with the Meditations; it argues circularly and implies the existence of the world (which he was sceptical of) or of God. [editline]7th February 2012[/editline] I'm not really sure how I didn't notice this before. But Descartes argument is entirely distinct from the ontological argument and to equivocate them is flat out wrong.
[QUOTE=fluke42;34480023]1) God is perfect in every way including existence [U]2) Therefore God exists.[/U][/QUOTE] 1) Googly eyed goldman James with the power to do anything is perfect in every way including existence. 2) [U]Therefor googly eyed goldman James with the power to do anything exists.[/U]
I don't really know about the argument of "Therefore God Exists" - wouldn't this be simplified into: "Everything is perfect, therefore perfection exists" - and not "Everything is perfect, therefore god exists" - which would require the definition of god as in the OP mentioned "Tripple O-God". But then I have to ask, if we decide to define a being such as "god", what gives us proof of our descripton? It's a bit too hypothetical - it's philosophy, yes - but it's somewhat sluggish. It's an opinion on "god" (I don't question the existence of god here, I'm just about the definition). Calling him "perfect" would be OUR vision about god, calling him perfect in every way - but what if god is not perfect, but capable of a lot of things, therefore making him omnipotent? Than he is neither willing nor benevolent - but at least has the possibility to change / alter / create / destroy things. So I wouldn't go for a "Tripple O-God" but for an "Omnipotent but not perfect" god - if you go for it at all.
Saying "since god is perfect, god exists because otherwise he would not be perfect", assumes the unproven fact that god actually exists and is perfect as support for his argument. It's pretty funny really.
Replace "god" with "invisible unicorn" and it's even more fun. Basically it shows how ridiculous this argument is.
[QUOTE=KILLTHIS;34585801]I don't really know about the argument of "Therefore God Exists" - wouldn't this be simplified into: "Everything is perfect, therefore perfection exists" - and not "Everything is perfect, therefore god exists" - which would require the definition of god as in the OP mentioned "Tripple O-God". But then I have to ask, if we decide to define a being such as "god", what gives us proof of our descripton? It's a bit too hypothetical - it's philosophy, yes - but it's somewhat sluggish. It's an opinion on "god" (I don't question the existence of god here, I'm just about the definition). Calling him "perfect" would be OUR vision about god, calling him perfect in every way - but what if god is not perfect, but capable of a lot of things, therefore making him omnipotent? Than he is neither willing nor benevolent - but at least has the possibility to change / alter / create / destroy things. So I wouldn't go for a "Tripple O-God" but for an "Omnipotent but not perfect" god - if you go for it at all.[/QUOTE] If all you're arguing about is the definition of something, it's bad philosophy. You can define anything as whatever as much as you like but ultimately, that doesn't change a thing, logically. If someone is arguing for the existence of something, just accept whatever definition they give otherwise you're both wasting your time. [editline]7th February 2012[/editline] [QUOTE=Simski;34585897]Saying "since god is perfect, god exists because otherwise he would not be perfect", assumes the unproven fact that god actually exists and is perfect as support for his argument. It's pretty funny really.[/QUOTE] Well no, that's not why the argument fails at all. The ontological argument is supposed to work [I]a priori,[/I] meaning without empirical proof. The argument is quite clever and not [I]quite[/I] as silly as everyone here takes for granted. Ultimately it's wrong, but a great deal of you fail to understand why.
[QUOTE=Robbobin;34586840]Well no, that's not why the argument fails at all. The ontological argument is supposed to work [I]a priori,[/I] meaning without empirical proof. The argument is quite clever and not [I]quite[/I] as silly as everyone here takes for granted. Ultimately it's wrong, but a great deal of you fail to understand why.[/QUOTE] He's using a fact that can't be proved as an attempt to prove that it's a fact. An amusing idea, but ultimately wrong because his base lacks evidence. If I'm still wrong, lecture me.
[QUOTE=Simski;34587223]He's using a fact that can't be proved as an attempt to prove that it's a fact. An amusing idea, but ultimately wrong because his base lacks evidence. If I'm still wrong, lecture me.[/QUOTE] Anselm is most definitely not trying to do that. His argument does make mistakes, but his mistake isn't the assumption that God exists. Pointing to a lack of evidence [I]is not[/I] a sufficient counter argument for [I]a priori[/I] arguments. It would be like trying to prove that a maths equation is wrong by saying there's nothing observable in the universe that proves it is true. It's just not how a priori arguments operate. You refute a priori arguments through logic alone, without appealing to observable phenomena.
[QUOTE=Robbobin;34586840]If all you're arguing about is the definition of something, it's bad philosophy. You can define anything as whatever as much as you like but ultimately, that doesn't change a thing, logically. If someone is arguing for the existence of something, just accept whatever definition they give otherwise you're both wasting your time.[/QUOTE] Yes, as I can see, I went a bit too short on this term - my bad. But still I have to say it's better to start with small steps in order to actually prove or disprove things. Even though he goes a priori on this, which I definitely accept, I still have to disagree that perfection is the prove of existence of god; If he'd went for something actually happening, as matter of fact "active", I think it would've been more likely to get a better glimpse on this.
[QUOTE=Robbobin;34587254]Anselm is most definitely not trying to do that. His argument does make mistakes, but his mistake isn't the assumption that God exists. Pointing to a lack of evidence [I]is not[/I] a sufficient counter argument for [I]a priori[/I] arguments. It would be like trying to prove that a maths equation is wrong by saying there's nothing observable in the universe that proves it is true. It's just not how a priori arguments operate. You refute a priori arguments through logic alone, without appealing to observable phenomena.[/QUOTE] look this probably sounds really dumb of me but I think that the entire concept of "a priori" is a load of shit thoughts are observable phenomena too, why do they have a separate magical world completely independent of the empirical one?
[QUOTE=DainBramageStudios;34595121]look this probably sounds really dumb of me but I think that the entire concept of "a priori" is a load of shit thoughts are observable phenomena too, why do they have a separate magical world completely independent of the empirical one?[/QUOTE] Yup, I agree with you. I haven't totally rejected a priori claims [I]quite[/I] yet, but I'm at very least very, very sceptical of them. I was just point out how unconvincing it would be to point to empirical evidence (or even worse, a [I]lack[/I] of evidence) when your opponent is attempting to use pure logic to support a claim.
[QUOTE=Robbobin;34595207]Yup, I agree with you. I haven't totally rejected a priori claims [I]quite[/I] yet, but I'm at very least very, very sceptical of them. I was just point out how unconvincing it would be to point to empirical evidence (or even worse, a [I]lack[/I] of evidence) when your opponent is attempting to use pure logic to support a claim.[/QUOTE] what it's perfectly reasonable to point to a lack of evidence. absence of evidence is evidence of absence. I trust the real world more than another brain's chain of deductive reasoning (when all else is equal)
[QUOTE=DainBramageStudios;34595268]what it's perfectly reasonable to point to a lack of evidence. absence of evidence is evidence of absence. I trust the real world more than another brain's chain of deductive reasoning (when all else is equal)[/QUOTE] Well then pretty much the whole philosophical world disagrees with you. Deductive reasoning trumps everything except maybe observed phenomena (i.e. that which is proved to exist empirically). If you disagree with valid deductive reasoning, you're committed to explosivity (every premise is both true and false). Also, evidence is a pretty useless concept, analytically, along with most induction. It's great for functioning as a human being and for formulating scientific theories, but as far as analytic, deductively valid philosophy goes, it's pretty weak. I've never seen a black swan which is absence of evidence, but I have no philosophically valid argument demonstrating they don't exist. [editline]7th February 2012[/editline] Of course you can reject the ontological argument because it's objectively wrong, deductively. But if we assumed it was valid, you couldn't point to absence of evidence because you'd reach a contradiction and explosivity would happen.
[QUOTE=Robbobin;34578121]That's not Anselm's argument though. Saying that everything = god is philosophically trivial because all you're doing is defining something as such.[/QUOTE] Change your avatar please, it always reminds me of a girl pig rather than a guy in a funny pose every time I take a glimpse at it. And I'm sure 100% of people agree with me on that one. Maybe even you?
[QUOTE=Simski;34587223]He's using a fact that can't be proved as an attempt to prove that it's a fact. An amusing idea, but ultimately wrong because his base lacks evidence. If I'm still wrong, lecture me.[/QUOTE] The ontological argument is wrong because "existence" is not a property (or "predicate") of a thing.
[QUOTE=Noble;34603408]The ontological argument is wrong because "existence" is not a property (or "predicate") of a thing.[/QUOTE] Makes sense
[QUOTE=Gekkosan;34603272]Change your avatar please, it always reminds me of a girl pig rather than a guy in a funny pose every time I take a glimpse at it. And I'm sure 100% of people agree with me on that one. Maybe even you?[/QUOTE] I can't see anything except Tom Waits in a funny pose :( I'll change it as soon as I think of something. [editline]8th February 2012[/editline] trace around what you see for me?
[img]http://desmond.imageshack.us/Himg209/scaled.php?server=209&filename=waitsyava.png&res=medium[/img] see, clearly a pig with its mouth open. (when you see it, you cannot unsee it)
[QUOTE=Robbobin;34595390]Well then pretty much the whole philosophical world disagrees with you. Deductive reasoning trumps everything except maybe observed phenomena (i.e. that which is proved to exist empirically). If you disagree with valid deductive reasoning, you're committed to explosivity (every premise is both true and false). Also, evidence is a pretty useless concept, analytically, along with most induction. It's great for functioning as a human being and for formulating scientific theories, but as far as analytic, deductively valid philosophy goes, it's pretty weak. I've never seen a black swan which is absence of evidence, but I have no philosophically valid argument demonstrating they don't exist. [editline]7th February 2012[/editline] Of course you can reject the ontological argument because it's objectively wrong, deductively. But if we assumed it was valid, you couldn't point to absence of evidence because you'd reach a contradiction and explosivity would happen.[/QUOTE] deductive reasoning is a form of inductive reasoning. thoughts are evidence.
[QUOTE=DainBramageStudios;34605215]deductive reasoning is a form of inductive reasoning. thoughts are evidence.[/QUOTE] No, it isn't. And they are not. There is a clear difference between deductive and inductive reasoning. [editline]8th February 2012[/editline] You just reminded me of Kant's introduction to his Critique of Pure Reason. He makes that distinction right away.
[QUOTE=DainBramageStudios;34605215]deductive reasoning is a form of inductive reasoning.[/QUOTE] No it isn't. It just flat out [I]isn't.[/I] [editline]9th February 2012[/editline] Induction is an invalid form of logic, while deduction is valid.
invalid, but very useful.
[QUOTE=matsta;34619473]invalid, but very useful.[/QUOTE] Definitely. But undeniably less analytically powerful than deduction.
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