lehmar

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« on: May 20, 2012, 09:55:25 am »
Steven Carr presents this simple disproof of God as a maximally great being:

1) Suppose a omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent
being exists in all possible worlds. (This would be God, of course.)

2) Many logically possible worlds contain large amounts of suffering
with no redeeming features.

3) Therefore these logically possible worlds do not contain a being
who would alleviate pointless suffering.

4) Therefore there are logically possible worlds that do not contain
an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being.

5) But this contradicts 1, showing that there is no necessary
omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being.


How should one respond to this argument?

One could deny 2), but it seems pretty obvious that it is logically possible that those possible worlds exist.

One could also modify the concept of God so as to construe God as a contingent being.

Any thoughts on this argument would be appreciated. Thanks!


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idunno

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2012, 09:01:11 pm »
I'm not really familiar with the ontological argument but it seems to me that premise 2 is not possible in light of premise 1. If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God exists in all possible worlds then any world with large amounts of suffering that have no redeeming features is logically impossible. The problem of evil doesn't succeed as a logical argument against the existence of God exactly because we aren't in a position to say that there isn't sufficient reason for the suffering we see.
“...these things- the beauty, the memory of our past- …are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.”
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lehmar

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2012, 12:04:27 am »
Yes, given premise 1, premise 2 is false. But here's my problem.

Why think premise 1 is true? Supposedly, Plantinga's ontological argument proves premise 1. But the soundness of Plantinga's argument depends on whether it is possible that a maximally great being exists, call this:

P) It is possible that a maximally great being exists.

But why think this? Prima facie, P seems possible. But the critic can rebut this via premise 2 of the ontological disproof. That is, given that there are possible worlds with large amounts of suffering with no redeeming features, P is false.

The theist will obviously respond by denying premise 2. The critic will then respond by probably saying that premise 2 is more intuitive than P, so that P should be rejected.

The issue boils down to the question: which is true - premise 2 or P? (Or if that question is too strong, which premise has better rational support?)

In order to answer the question, both parties can't just assert either premise 2 or P, for either assertion begs the question. Independent reasons need to be found. But what reasons should these be?



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lehmar

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2012, 12:14:10 am »
One possible route that comes to mind is this:

1) If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.
2) Suppose there is a possible world containing unredeemed evil in which God does not exist. Call this world W.
3) Evil is an objective value.
4) W contains an objective value. (from 2 and 3)
5) God exists in W. (from 1 and 4)
6) God exists and does not exist in W. (from 2 and 5)
7) W is impossible. (reductio)

That is, there is no possible world containing unredeemed evil.

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idunno

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2012, 12:49:37 am »
I'll get back to this tomorrow but this may help in the mean time

   

   http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ndmnIs2gMzI

   
“...these things- the beauty, the memory of our past- …are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.”
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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2012, 01:39:27 pm »
Lehmar,I don't think that evil can be called an objective moral value. If you want to stay with the OP though you can say:

Assumption:
W is a possible world where unnecessary suffering is objectively morally wrong but does not include God.

Argument
1) Unnecessary suffering is objectively morally wrong.
2) Things can only be objectively morally wrong if there is an objective moral standard.
3) Therefore if Unnecessary suffering is objectively morally wrong, then there is an objective moral standard.
4) Therefore W must contain an objective moral standard.

5) God is the only possible objective moral standard.
6) Therefore W must include God

7) Therefore W is impossible since it would entail a with 6



Now this argument is logically valid, but I do not see it as sound.  Namely I disagree with premise 5.  

I am also not sure that I really believe in premise 1 as well.


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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2012, 04:59:06 pm »
lehmar wrote: 2) Many logically possible worlds contain large amounts of suffering
with no redeeming features.


At first glance. this is certainly epistemically possible. For all we know, it is possible that such a world is possible. But this says nothing about its metaphysical possibility. Given premise 1, that a MGB exists, it is not logically possible for this world to exist. lehmar is correct that the question becomes whether or not premise 1 or premise 2 is more likely.*

lehmar wrote: In order to answer the question, both parties can't just assert either  premise 2 or P, for either assertion begs the question. Independent  reasons need to be found. But what reasons should these be?


I disagree that asserting either would beg the question. Plantinga's ontological argument claims that if a maximally great being is possible, it exists in the actual world. He does not prove premise 1, that it is possible a MGB exists. If this premise is true, then the argument follows.

So, which premise is more plausible? Well the consequences of both allow us to simplify the question to: Is a MGB impossible or possible?

To quote myself from another thread in this forum:
This [argument]... [shows] that God is either impossible or possible.  Combine this with Maydole's Modal Perfection Argument which shows that  it is possible that a God exists - therefore it is not impossible - we  come to the conclusion that God must exist in the actual world.

And  if Maydole's argument is refuted, the objector still has to claim that  God is impossible. That is, either show that one of his attributes is  self-contradictory, or that two or more of His attributes are  conflicting. The burden of proof is on them.

*Note: You have said that this world  contains  unnecessary suffering - not unnecessary evil. There is a  subtle  difference here but not relevant as far as I can see (though  certainly  interesting to read about the contrast between the problem of  evil and  the problem of suffering).


lehmar wrote: One could also modify the concept of God so as to construe God as a contingent being.


To claim this would cause many problems for the theist. If God is contingent, what is He contingent on? This means that there are possible worlds in which He does not exist (and so the ontological argument fails). I don't see any good reasons for taking this approach.


jbiemans wrote: I don't think that evil can be called an objective moral value.

How so? Does murder have any objective moral value? I should hope that we agree, that it is indeed morally wrong. Now, is murder an evil? If yes, then it follows that evil has an objective moral value, that it is wrong.

As for your argument, I disagree with it for another reason to what you gave - but perhaps this is what you hinted at (though as an aside, I don't believe there can be any objective moral standard other than from God).

1) Unnecessary suffering is objectively morally wrong.
This premise needs to be clarified:
1') If unnecessary suffering exists, it is objectively morally wrong.
To follow through with this, the argument becomes:

1') If unnecessary suffering exists, it is objectively morally wrong.
2') Things can only be objectively morally wrong if there is an objective moral standard.
3') Therefore if unnecessary suffering exists is objectively morally wrong, then there is an objective moral standard.
4') Therefore if unnecessary suffering exists, there is an objective moral standard.
5') God is the only possible objective moral standard.
6') Therefore if unnecessary suffering exists, God exists.

7') If God exists, unnecessary suffering cannot exist.

8') But 6' and 7' contradict, therefore unnecessary suffering cannot exist.
"And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."
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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2012, 07:21:07 pm »
You missed the other possible conclusion to the argument there.  from 6 & 7 therefor god does not exist.

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2012, 07:40:38 pm »
jbiemans wrote: You missed the other possible conclusion to the argument there.  from 6 & 7 therefor god does not exist.

But by 1', and 2', unnecessary suffering only exists if there is an objective moral standard. Let us examine a possible world in which unnecessary suffering exists, and that God does not:

Firstly, what does it mean for it to be unnecessary, let alone necessary suffering? It wouldn't depend on anything, and so it just becomes suffering. And secondly, if God does not exist, there is no objective moral standard. Therefore this suffering (or unnecessary suffering if you insist) cannot exist - as there is no wrong or right in this possible world.

Therefore, unnecessary suffering cannot exist without God, nor with God.

"And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."
- Mathew Arnold, Dover Beach

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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2012, 07:53:24 pm »
You are making the other assumption that i talked about, naimley you are assuming that god is the only possible standard.

Like i also said, i am not even sure about the premise 1.  



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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2012, 08:05:52 pm »
jbiemans wrote: You are making the other assumption that i talked about, naimley you are assuming that god is the only possible standard.

I am indeed making this assumption. Do you mind clarifying you position on what other objective moral standard might exist?

jbiemans wrote: Like i also said, i am not even sure about the premise 1.

By your unsureness, do you mean the same progression of thought that I had? Which concludes that unnecessary suffering cannot exist with God, and cannot exist without God?

Though provided that you can show that an objective moral standard can exist outside of God, we would come to the conclusion that unnecessary suffering cannot exist with god, but could exist provided this other source of an objective moral standard.



TheDyslexicPoet wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbiemans
I don't think that evil can be called an objective moral value.

How  so? Does murder have any objective moral value? I should hope that we  agree, that it is indeed morally wrong. Now, is murder an evil? If yes,  then it follows that evil has an objective moral value, that it is  wrong.

I am interested to your thoughts on this. Does murder have any objective moral value? And is murder an evil?

"And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."
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lehmar

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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2012, 08:13:39 am »
Jbiemans, yes, premise 5 in your argument would be the controversial one, so one would indeed need to argue for it. But given its truth (and I think a good case can probably be made for it!), I think your argument is sound.

I'm interested as to why you aren't sure about premise 1 in your argument. I would think that premise 1 is obvious, or at least highly plausible.

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lehmar

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« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2012, 08:23:44 am »
TheDyslexicPoet, I don't fully understand Maydole's argument yet, but I will certainly research on that soon! I'm wondering though whether the question of whether the MGB is possible or impossible can be answered this way:

1) If it is possible that unnecessary evil exists, then the MGB is impossible.
2) It is possible that unnecessary evil exists.
3) Therefore, the MGB is impossible.

(Metaphysical possibility being the relevant notion of possibility here.)

Can't the skeptic offer this argument to show that the MGB is impossible?

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2012, 02:14:05 pm »
lehmar wrote: Jbiemans, yes, premise 5 in your argument would be the controversial  one, so one would indeed need to argue for it. But given its truth (and I  think a good case can probably be made for it!), I think your argument  is sound.
I would like to hear this good case of yours. Given another source of a moral standard, you may not only prove the soundness of premise 5, but also provide a defeater for the Moral Argument! This would be very impressive indeed!

lehmar wrote: TheDyslexicPoet, I don't fully understand Maydole's argument yet, but I will certainly research on that soon! I'm wondering though whether the question of whether the MGB is possible or impossible can be answered this way:

1) If it is possible that unnecessary evil exists, then the MGB is impossible.
2) It is possible that unnecessary evil exists.
3) Therefore, the MGB is impossible.

(Metaphysical possibility being the relevant notion of possibility here.)

Can't the skeptic offer this argument to show that the MGB is impossible

Maydole's argument I think is a very good one. Here is a link to a blog post by another member here discussing the ontological argument, in which he talks about Maydole's argument. Why it is Possible that a Maximally Great Being Exists

As for your argument, I provide the following rebuttal: You may well indeed claim to be talking about metaphysical probability, but you have not provided any evidence for this. Premise 2 is epistemically possible, that is, it could be true or it could be false for all we know. But we know nothing of it's metaphysical possibility. It is quite a strong claim to say that it is logically possible - that unnecessary evil must exist in some possible world. You have the burden of proof here.

Another note to make is that, appealing to the Moral Argument:

1) Objective evil cannot exist without an objective moral standard.
2) A MGB is the only source of an objective moral standard
3) If a MGB does not exist, then objective evil does not exist
4) Objective evil exists
5) Therefore a MGB exists

To defeat this argument you must either defeat either premise 2 or 4. You could try defeat another premise, but I doubt anyone would disagree with 1, and the others merely follow from the other premises. To defeat 2, you must provide evidence for another objective moral standard. And to defeat 3, you must confirm that only subjective evil exists. Therefore you would be putting forward that acts such as murder, rape, and torture are only subjective in the minds of humans - so are not actually wrong.

"And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."
- Mathew Arnold, Dover Beach

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lehmar

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An ontological disproof of God's existence
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2012, 02:01:13 am »
Oh, maybe you misunderstood me. I meant that a good case can probably made for the claim that God is the only possible standard for objective morality. I think this case would look at naturalistic interpretations of morality showing how they are inadequate, and would show how only a transcendent source can account for what we know about morality. But that's for another topic, haha.

Thank you for the link on Maydole's argument.... Good point, yeah, I have to agree that the skeptic has the burden of proof in showing that unnecessary evil possibly exists. This seems to be quite a heavy burden to bear, which is an advantage for the theist.

Regarding your moral argument for the MGB, I'm not sure about premise 2. I agree that objective morality must be grounded in a transcendent source, but why think this source must be the MGB? At most, morality only proves a transcendent source; it doesn't give us the MGB. In other words, morality underdetermines the inference to the MGB. But if morality does lead to the MGB, I'd be very glad to see an argument that shows that!