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chris81

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Metaphysically necessary
« on: May 26, 2010, 06:16:39 am »
Hello! I've been thinking about why God existed in the first place  before the creation of the world. It seems reasonable to think that God  is metaphysically necessary, but why exactly? What arguments are there  for this? Is it metaphysically necessary that God is who and what He is  in this world, or could God have been different in a different world? If  God is metaphysically necessary then doesn't that point to something  higher than God that is the reason why God is metaphysically necessary?  That doesn't feel right I think. Can someone recommend something to read  about these kinds of questions? Thanks! /Chris

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Jason Dulle

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Metaphysically necessary
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2010, 04:47:49 pm »

I don't have time to respond to your question about why one should think that God's existence is metaphysically necessary, but I did want to respond to your question of whether God could have been different.  If God is a metaphysically necessary being, then He could not be different than what He is.  That's what it means to be metaphysically necessary.  So if God could have been different in different worlds, He would not be a metaphysically necessary being.


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chris81

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Metaphysically necessary
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2010, 05:14:57 am »
That's very interesting! Thank you! Can someone recommend something to read   about these kinds of questions? Thanks! /Chris

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Matt

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Metaphysically necessary
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 12:04:37 pm »
The best argument for God's metaphysical necessity, I think, comes in the form of the various ontological arguments based on God's properties.

Some, like Alvin Plantinga, have argued that we have reason to believe in God's necessity on the grounds of his maximal potency, that is,since a being is more powerful the less his power depends on the circumstances that he finds himself in (that is, the more worlds there are in which he has his power), a being with the maximal possible amount of power must have his power in all possible worlds, in addition to having the familiar unlimited power in his particular possible world. Since a being cannot have power if it is nonexistent, such a being must exist in each possible world in which it has power, that is, all of them. So such a being, if he existed, would be necessary. If it is possible that such a being exists necessarily, and it certainly seems that it is, then necessarily, that being does exist. Therefore, such a being necessarily exists.



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Erin Foster

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Metaphysically necessary
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 09:15:43 pm »

silentmatt wrote: The best argument for God's metaphysical necessity, I think, comes in the form of the various ontological arguments based on God's properties.

Some, like Alvin Plantinga, have argued that we have reason to believe in God's necessity on the grounds of his maximal potency, that is,since a being is more powerful the less his power depends on the circumstances that he finds himself in (that is, the more worlds there are in which he has his power), a being with the maximal possible amount of power must have his power in all possible worlds, in addition to having the familiar unlimited power in his particular possible world. Since a being cannot have power if it is nonexistent, such a being must exist in each possible world in which it has power, that is, all of them. So such a being, if he existed, would be necessary. If it is possible that such a being exists necessarily, and it certainly seems that it is, then necessarily, that being does exist. Therefore, such a being necessarily exists.

I don't find such arguments to be very convincing for several reasons, though. For instance, using the same reasoning, what prevents an omnipotent -- but malevolent, so clearly not Christian -- being from existing? If by the mere fiat of being omnipotent it possibly exists in all worlds and so (by S5, <>[]p --> []p) necessarily exists, then why should that being be anything like the Christian God?

Why would it have any other properties that it has at all, in fact, rather than a string of properties picked by a dart toss that we can then call "necessary," too? Something is wrong there, though it's difficult to point out exactly what without seeing the particular argument in question. (Though in this case, I'm familiar with Plantinga's modal ontological argument -- which he himself doesn't think is very strong.)

I haven't come across an ontological argument yet that doesn't have some viable parody, for instance, and though it can sometimes be hard to say exactly where an ontological argument fails; that it can seemingly produce arbitrary statements about things being necessary is a pretty good clue that it *does* fail.

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John M

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Metaphysically necessary
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2012, 08:24:31 am »
> and  though it can sometimes be hard to say exactly where an ontological
> argument fails; that it can seemingly produce arbitrary statements
> about  things being necessary is a pretty good clue that it *does* fail

IMO, that's a pretty weak argument in and of itself. "I can't explain it - but it just seems wrong, so its probably false" isn't very helpful in determining the truth value of something. Non-theists themselves warn us against such thinking - they will say "you can't use your human intuition to determine if something is true" - they will point out quantum physics or something similar to make their point.

Though I am sensitive to your critique of the ontological argument (OA) and your questioning why  we can attach any moral character to the necessary being concluded to by the OA. (I actually posted this question on the Ontological Argument forum here on the RF website).

The OA, for me, is successful getting to a metaphysically necessary God. I think it's pretty clear that it does. WLC's book "Reasonable Faith" provides some strong reasoning for this (and against, say, a pseudo-omnipotent being and the other parodies against necessity).

But I'm not sure I feel confident that it can get you a morally perfect God. For that, I rely on things like the Moral Argument and the Historicity of Jesus. Perfect Being Theology (which seems to be how those in favor of this "full OA" conclude God is morally perfect) is still fuzzy to me at how it can be used here to conclude moral perfection is better than, say, immoral perfection (questions you could ask is - *is* immoral perfection actually a valid attribute? *is* it better than moral perfection?)

I need to do more reflection on this problem, I was hoping someone could provide more info on that - without seeming to be arbitrary, how can you assign moral perfection to the maximally great being that the OA concludes to? I don't have Plantinga's material here - what does he say about this?

See my thread on the OA forum thread for the question I posed on this:

http://rfforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/how-does-the-OA-conclude-with-a-quotmorally-perfectquot-being-5827240

I would be grateful to get more folks' thoughts on that over there (since this thread is on God's aseity, and as I said, I think we can successfully get to a self-existence, metaphysically necessary being).

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ATheisticSeeker

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Metaphysically necessary
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2012, 02:57:20 pm »
Most of the ontological arguments I have studied seem to be based on the idea that necessary existence is somehow "better" than contingent existence.  

Indeed, a central theme in all "a priori" arguments I've seen is the importance of absolutes and necessities with the underlying assumption that if something isn't absolute or necessary it is somehow loses signifigance.

Moral argument:
1. In order for moral values to have any meaning to us whatsoever they must have absolute objective truth.
2. Moral values do have meaning to us (for otherwise we'd all be happy to go around raping and pillaging).
3. Therefore moral values do have absolute objective truth.
4. The existence of absolutes implies God exists.
5.  God exists.

Now, doing a little cutting and pasting, we can change a few words and get the Transcendental argument:
1. In order for the laws of logic to have any meaning to us whatsoever they must have absolute objective truth.
2. The laws of logic do have meaning to us (for otherwise we couldn't even have this debate, silly!).
3. Therefore the laws of logic do have absolute objective truth.
4. The existence of absolutes implies God exists.
5.  God exists.

Something similar is afoot with necessity.

1. Define God as the greatest entity that we can imagine.
2. Suppose God does not exist.
3. We can imagine an entity, call him Gid, who possesses all the attributes of God PLUS existence.
4. But then Gid > God, because Gid exists.  But this contradicts our definition.
5. Therefore God exists.
6. Now suppose God does not exist necessarily.
7.  We can imagine an entity, call him Gad, who possesses all the attributes of God PLUS necessary existence.
8.  But then Gad > God, contradiction!
9.  Therefore, God exists necessarily.
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