Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#16

Post by Canuckster1127 » Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:01 pm

Jac,

Sorry to take so long to respond. I've been thinking through more the original post I responded to, and your response. What I was reacting to in particular was the assertion that mysticism almost always leads to skepticism. In looking at this statement in the context you used it and also after doing some additional looking into the matter, I can see that this assertion is not unique to you and appears to have some traction in other sources as well, although the degree to which it is stated is open to debate.

I think it boils down to definitions. I consider myself open to the mystical in the sense that I accept that there are elements of the nature and person of God which are transcendent and unknowable. I can see where, if you expand the scope of that admission, then skepticism as to the knowability of God can be taken to extremes in a form of slippery slope type argument. However, I think it's equally true that if you go to the opposite extreme and eliminate any element of the mystical then the results can include the diminishing of God to the limits of man's understanding and knowlege.

Reductionist thinking to extremes in either direction can lead to erroneous and unbalanced positions. Admitting that there is a mystical elements and keeping that in a balance or tension is still a viable and I would argue, desirable position to maintain and one that is closest to the reality that God has elements of transendence as well as that which can be known through nature and direct revelation. Maybe that falls outside of the definition of what you're intending to categorize as "mysticism", but that's what I was hearing and reacting too.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#17

Post by Jac3510 » Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:23 pm

Oh, we agree on that 100%, Bart. You can't remove the mystical experience from the Christian life without destroying it. Being the good Thomist I am, I absolutely require that God is fundamentally unknowable in His essence. Intellectually, we know Him only as to what He is not and what He is only analogously. To me, philosophy, when allowed to run its course, invites us to the mystical life. It does not shut it up to us. It is only when we come to understand these things about God that we can properly enter the experiential aspect of our relationship.

My objection is to the idea that mysticism is the means by which we know God. It is not. I object to the idea that the way you come to understand the nature of things, including God Himself, is through mysticism in any form. Experience is essential to a well rounded life, but experience must line up with what is known to be true, not vice versa.

So far from discounting mysticism, I hold it as essential. But I hold it as essential only when properly practiced, just as I do with any discipline. Science, for instance, is essential, but when it is improperly applied to the wrong problems, well . . . you've seen what happens. All this started because Pro seems to think that through mysticism he can come to understand reality. That's an improper application of a necessary discipline, and the result, if one has the courage to follow the road where it leads, is to absolute skepticism.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#18

Post by Jac3510 » Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:32 pm

Pro,

The problem with your entire line of thought, as with most Eastern thinking, is that it ignores or rejects the law of non-contradiction. The irony, of course, is that they always end up employing it in their attempt to disprove it. You've done it repeatedly in your own thread. As for those who deny it, I agree with Avicenna, who said:
Avicenna wrote:Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned
You and everyone who deny it go on to live by it, which makes you intellectually dishonest at best. Either you are going to be a rational person or you are not. If not, then what is the use of trying to be reasonable about anything at all? Words have absolutely no meaning, nor do ideas or concepts. You may as well kill yourself, for to live and to die mean exactly the same thing--there is no difference. Remember, you cannot appeal to the law of non-contradiction and say that to live is not to die, and to die is not to live - both mean nothing and the same thing in precisely the same way. You may as well admit that I am right, because if you are right, then both us are right at the same time, and both of us are wrong at the same time. It is not merely our opinion that is right or wrong, but the very ideas we espouse themselves are both true and not true at the same time.

Again, Pro, if you want to be an irrational person, that is your right. I just don't think you are willing to be consistent in it. You act as if you believe in rationality and then deny it? Sorry, but if that is the length to which you must go to maintain your disbelief in God, then you have proven in the most extreme fashion that atheists are the irrational ones, and that only the theists have reason on their side. Not that you would mind admitting that, because in your view, reason is meaningless. Unfortunateyl, that makes it hard to have any conversation at all, doesn't it, since we can't reason together about anything, being that reason doesn't exist and all . . .
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#19

Post by smiley » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:57 am

On-topic: okay - it seems that I misunderstood Plantinga's argument when I started the thread. I thought that, unlike St. Anselm's, it did not rely on the assumption that a maximally great being must, by definition, exist in all possible worlds as a basis. Instead I thought that it simply deduces that by Axiom S5 that if God possibly necessarily exists, then He must necessarily exist. But I wasn't sure why it was exclusive to proving the existence of a maximally great being.

Now, however, I can't help but think it's begging the question.

By saying "it's possible that a maximally great being exists", if you include the property of existing in all possible worlds in the definition of being maximally great, then the conclusion is contained in the premise.

I'm also not at all sure how Plantinga's argument if any different than St. Anselm's.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#20

Post by DannyM » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:29 pm

"Alvin Plantinga, a contemporary defender of Anselm's line of thought, defines God as a 'maximally great being' and argues that a maximally great being must exist if its existence is possible because 'necessary existence is a great making property.' (A great making property is one that is objectively good and admits of a logical maximum. The goodness of existing per se is a great making property that admits a logical maximum in necessary existence. And although - as Hume and Kant pointed out - saying that something 'exists' does not add to the list of its properties, to say that something 'exists necessarily' does add to its list of properties.) Given the additional premise that 'the existence of a maximally great being is possible', it follows that a maximally great being therefore 'exists, and exists necessarily.' Contra Dawkins, the ontological argument can be expressed as a logically valid syllogism:

1.By definition, if it is possible that God exists, then God exists
2.It is possible that God exists
3.Therefore, God exists


Faced with the ontological argument, the atheist does have a 'get out' clause; but embracing this get out clause is not without its price. The ontological argument shows that 'the person who wishes to deny that God exists must claim that God's existence is impossible.' That is, denying the existence of God is not on a par with denying the existence of the Loch Ness monster. To deny the existence of the Loch Ness monster one needn't make the claim that its existence is logically impossible, because one can coherently claim that Nessie simply fails to exist despite being logically possible. However, to deny the existence of God one does have to make the claim that God's existence is logically impossible, because one cannot coherently claim that God fails to exist despite being logically possible. This seems to be a price that many non-theists are willing to pay, despite the fact that no independent argument has ever shown the concept of God to be incoherent. Nevertheless, Plantinga argued that his version of the ontological argument at least showed that belief in God was no less rational than disbelief:

it must be conceded that not everyone who understands and reflects on its central premise — that the existence of a maximally great being is possible — will accept it. Still, it is evident, I think, that there is nothing contrary to reason or irrational in accepting this premise. What I claim for this argument, therefore, is that it establishes, not the truth of theism, but its rational acceptability.

He has subsequently contended that the modal ontological argument: 'provides as good grounds for the existence of God as does any serious philosophical argument for any important philosophical conclusion.' The ontological argument may or may not be a sound theistic proof, but it is not logically invalid.


http://www.arn.org/docs/williams/pw_god ... eview2.htm
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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#21

Post by Jac3510 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:04 pm

Smiley,

I think you've pointed to a similar issue I raised:
I wrote:I certainly seems like an existing thing is greater (or more perfect) than a non-existing thing, you sort of run the risk of begging the question with that statement, because if existence is a perfection, then existence does add to a concept, which is the objection under discussion.
We've approached it a little differently. For you, if the necessity of existing in all possible worlds is part of the definition of "maximally great," then the argument is circular, whereas for me, if you include the concept of existence in the concept of greatness, the argument becomes circular. Each of these criticisms would have to be examined. I can see how someone might respond to both.

As far as how Plantinga differs from Anselm, the latter employed a reductio ad absurdum to make his case. He basically argued that since we can conceive of God in our minds, it is absurd to say that He only exists in our minds, since if He only existed in our minds, what is in our minds would be greater than what is in reality, which would contradict the original definition, thus meaning we could not actually conceive of the very thing which we had actually conceived. In short, Anselm's argument is more epistemological, whereas Plantinga's is not. He focuses on possible world language.

The argument certainly raises some interesting philosophical questions:

1. Does existence add to a concept?
2. Can necessary existence be distinguished from contingent existence enough to allow us to say it adds to a concept?
3. Can the notion of God be shown to be logically incoherent?

I think both your and my objection are found somewhere in (2). For both of us, to add "necessary existence" to a concept seems to beg the question. I'm just not sure you can do that. Of course, I'm also a Thomist, so I have a slightly different "ontological" argument, anyway -- I would argue in favor of subsistent existence. Maybe that's why I've never been too worried about defending Anselm's or Plantinga's version. Perhaps both are perfectl defensible. To be honest, I just don't know.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#22

Post by Proinsias » Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:58 pm

Jac3510 wrote:Pro,

The problem with your entire line of thought, as with most Eastern thinking, is that it ignores or rejects the law of non-contradiction. The irony, of course, is that they always end up employing it in their attempt to disprove it. You've done it repeatedly in your own thread. As for those who deny it, I agree with Avicenna, who said:
Avicenna wrote:Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned
That's a bit harsh. Burned and beaten if they don't agree with you? Why not be nice to them until they can't take it any more?
Either you are going to be a rational person or you are not.
There is a third option, which is being a rational person sometimes.
Remember, you cannot appeal to the law of non-contradiction and say that to live is not to die, and to die is not to live - both mean nothing and the same thing in precisely the same way.
I kinda thought that was what religion was. That death is just a event in life that takes you to another type of life.
Again, Pro, if you want to be an irrational person, that is your right. I just don't think you are willing to be consistent in it.
No, I'm not willing to be consistent in it. Sometimes rational, sometimes irrational.
You act as if you believe in rationality and then deny it?
I have great respect for it, I wouldn't go as far as to say I believe in it.
Unfortunateyl, that makes it hard to have any conversation at all, doesn't it, since we can't reason together about anything, being that reason doesn't exist and all . .
Yeah it does, but I like to try.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#23

Post by B. W. » Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:23 pm

Ther you are Proinsias...

Did you understand my response on the Moral Thread????


Just checking :)
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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#24

Post by Jac3510 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 7:24 am

That's a bit harsh. Burned and beaten if they don't agree with you? Why not be nice to them until they can't take it any more?
You didn't read the quote very carefully, did you?
There is a third option, which is being a rational person sometimes.
No, to be rational sometimes is to be irrational all the time. Saying that sometimes you choose to be rational and sometimes you choose to be irrational is by its nature an irrational statement. So, no, you don't have a third option. You're just choosing to be irrational.
I kinda thought that was what religion was. That death is just a event in life that takes you to another type of life.
That's what you think religion is? Hah. But in truth, I doubt that's what you think religion is at all. I believe you are just interested in playing silly word games now.
No, I'm not willing to be consistent in it. Sometimes rational, sometimes irrational.
Which means you are both intellectually dishonest AND irrational. Seriously, why do you even bother having conversations with anyone on anything if you can just choose to sometimes be rational and sometimes not? And why should you think your ideas mean anything to anyone else if they can just choose to be rational or not? Even if you prove something, it doesn't matter, because they can just shrug their shoulders and be irrational. That's the same thing you are doing.
I have great respect for it, I wouldn't go as far as to say I believe in it.
And yet I bet that you stop at red lights and follow your doctor's orders when taking medication. Why? Because you know there are consequences for not doing those things. You have the same problem with rationality that you do with morality - you live as if it exists, and then intellectually deny it, which makes you a thief. This, above all, is what totally killed any respect I have for atheism or skepticism of any kind. You people pretend like you just need evidence, like you just need a shred of proof, like you have a more stringent test of truth than Christians do, that you are enlightened because of your "scientific" worldview, and then you turn around a base your entire life on a lie. You embrace irrationality when it is convenient for you and embrace rationality when it is convenient for you . . . and you accuse religious people of being weak?

Please. It takes a strong person to be an atheist or skeptic . . . to recognize that there is no purpose, not truth, no meaning, no right, no wrong, no rationality, no irrationality, no choice, no thought, no mind, no will, no love, no hate, no anything, no causality, no consequences. It takes a stronger person to believe than than has ever existed, because all of you act as if those things do exist, which you cannot have without presupposing God. No, I'm sorry, but thieves are the least respectable people of all.
Yeah it does, but I like to try.
I don't know why you bother. The only way to have a conversation is to get someone to reduce themselves to the same level you've reduced yourself to - common thievery. You want us to deny rationality, and then you want to reason with us, to embrace it when it is convenient as if it actually existed, all while denying the basis of its existence?

You can try all you like. Let me tell you what I like to try. I like to try to find a non-believers who are willing to be rational. Sadly, none of you are. And when you finally profess your hypocrisy, as you always end up doing, as you've done here, then there is nothing left for me to say. So continue to have your attempts at conversations with those who are bored enough to entertain themselves with you. For my part, consider this a fare-thee-well. At the end of the day, anything I say to you, including everything I've written here, is absolutely and completely a shear waste of time, for the same reason I said before: if you are simply going to choose to be irrational when it suites you, there's no basis for conversation. Of course, even there, I'm assuming you'll embrace rationality enough to see the logic in that thought, but since you don't, then you can just shrug that off as well.

I hope you find what you are looking for Pro.


BTW, Canuckster -

Pro here is a good example of why mysticism, as a means of understanding reality, always ends up in absolute skepticism. When you can choose to believe what you want and choose to disbelieve what you want regardless of what must or must not be true, then nothing is knowable. Again, I'm all in favor of the mystical experience, so long as it practiced within rational parameters.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#25

Post by Proinsias » Sun Jun 13, 2010 7:46 pm

Jac3510 wrote:You didn't read the quote very carefully, did you?
I think I read it quite carefully. I still think being nice would be a better reaction than burning and beating those who don't agree with you. Why choose violence and torture to get your point across? To me beating and buring says more about him than those disagreeing with him.
No, to be rational sometimes is to be irrational all the time. Saying that sometimes you choose to be rational and sometimes you choose to be irrational is by its nature an irrational statement. So, no, you don't have a third option. You're just choosing to be irrational.
I didn't say that sometimes I choose to be ration and somtimes I don't. I said that the third option is being rational sometimes. I really don't see why being irrational sometimes prevents one from being rational most of the time, could you expand on this please.
I kinda thought that was what religion was. That death is just a event in life that takes you to another type of life.
That's what you think religion is? Hah. But in truth, I doubt that's what you think religion is at all. I believe you are just interested in playing silly word games now.
I'm not trying to play word games. At the very least the main faiths of the world are based upon death not being an end to life as far as I can see. If you can show me religion without life beyond death I'm all ears.

And yet I bet that you stop at red lights and follow your doctor's orders when taking medication. Why? Because you know there are consequences for not doing those things.
I ride a bike, often very late at night, I don't always stop at red lights. I don't always follow my doctor's orders. Doctors have helped my wife and daughter to the point I can't thank them enough, they've also caused some serious problems and made things much worse. I've never finished a course of antibiotics in my life. We've got a temporary set of traffic lights in my cul de sac and no one pays attention to them when it's quiet.

I do see that when there's a group of people then some general agreement on how one does things makes life run more smoothly.
that you are enlightened because of your "scientific" worldview,
I don't claim to be enlightened nor do I calim a 'scientific worldview'.
I don't know why you bother. The only way to have a conversation is to get someone to reduce themselves to the same level you've reduced yourself to - common thievery.
Does that mean you are a common thief if you a re conversing with me? Or is this not a conversation. The only way to have a conversation is to talk to someone.
You can try all you like. Let me tell you what I like to try.
I think we may have common ground.
And when you finally profess your hypocrisy, as you always end up doing, as you've done here, then there is nothing left for me to say.
I don't end here, I start here. The athiests I've talked to don't like it much either.
For my part, consider this a fare-thee-well. At the end of the day, anything I say to you, including everything I've written here, is absolutely and completely a shear waste of time, for the same reason I said before: if you are simply going to choose to be irrational when it suites you, there's no basis for conversation.
It was nice talking to you. If you don't respond I'll still value your posts highly, follow your posts here and occasionally search for past gems.

*edit*

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#26

Post by cslewislover » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:31 pm

Proinsias wrote: I've never finished a course of antibiotics in my life.
This is telling, in my view. Why wouldn't you believe a doctor's instructions? Because he/she didn't give you all the minute details as to why you should finish it (and so you just decide upon yourself what to do. . . )? Because you can't "see" why you should finish them? It seems like you must be aware by now that those not finishing their antibiotics have helped to cause mutated/resistant strains of bacteria, since they had not been killed off by full doses of antibiotics? This has become a difficult problem when treating tuberculosis. Just some general info from the Mayo clinic:

Antibiotics: Misuse puts you and others at risk
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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#27

Post by Proinsias » Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:27 pm

When I was younger I didn't tend to finish the courses, I still got better. Sometimes I don't take them at all. If I was diagnosed with tb I'd be more inclined to do what I was told. We've changed doctors twice over the past 8 years or so due to them handing out antibiotics on a whim.

I've never, nor my daughter, been given antibiotics along with a clear diagnosis. Doctors advising people to take a course of antibiotics when they are not sure of what the issue is also causes huge problems. Overuse gives rise to highly resistant strains too, I got oral thrush when they gave me strong antibiotics in hospital without knowing what was wrong with me. No idea if the antibiotics helped but the oral thrush made a right mess of my mouth.
cslewislover wrote:Because he/she didn't give you all the minute details as to why you should finish it (and so you just decide upon yourself what to do. . . )?
Minute detail would be lovely but I'd settle for an answer as to what is making me feel bad. If they tell me I've got a staph infection, I'll listen. Usually they can't go into this level of detail. It appears to be the case here that once a course or two of antibiotics have failed they are then willing to take some samples and send them to the lab. Shotgun approaches come before testing. I speak to and question doctors, if I get the feeling they aren't really sure about what to do I'm not going to follow thier advice to the t. Much of the time they will say that they don't know if the issue is bacterial whilst handing over a precription for anitbiotics.

TB is an issue but from what I gather the tb issue is not so much the product of people not finishing courses of antibiotics as they're not sure about the diagnosis of the doctor and much more to do with obviously infected hard drug users often being incapable of regulary self medicating with anything aside from the drug of choice.

No idea what things are like in the states but here if you're not feeling too good for a few days and they're not really sure what's up they're pretty happy to hand out some erythromycin and wait to see what happens before they have to go to the inconvience of testing samples.

*edit*

oops, missed the link. Good article. Sums up the tb issue nicely. Some strains now need a 2 years course of antibiotics. A herion or crack addict is going to have a very tough time sticking to a 2 year course and with every failure it opens up the chances of the tb becoming resistant to even that - it's a toughie. I would have thought an implant like they do with the pill or for those with bipolar disorder might be useful but no idea if that is feasible for this type of thing

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Re: Plantinga's Ontological argument for God

#28

Post by Kristoffer » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:48 pm

Is it me or does that argument sound platonic? Lets findsusperfect triangles and perfect rabbits two! :lol:

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