Traditional arguments for the existence of God.

  • Created by: Beth Lee
  • Created on: 18-03-15 17:47
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  • Traditional arguments for the existence of God.
    • Ontological argument.
      • Anselm
        • First
          • 1. God is the greatest possible being which can be conceived of.
          • 2. God may exist either in the mind alone or in reality
          • 3. Something which exists in reality and in the mind is greater than something that exists as an idea in the mind alone.
          • 4. Therefore, God must exist in reality and in the mind.
        • Second
          • 1. God is that being nothing greater than which can be thought of.
          • 2. Something which cannot be thought not to exist is greater than anything which can be thought not to exist.
          • 3. Therefore, it is impossible to think that this being cannot exist.
          • 4. And this being is what we call God.
      • Descartes
        • 1. The idea of God is the idea of a 'supremely perfect being'
        • 2. A supremely perfect being has all perfections.
        • 3. Existence is a perfection.
        • 4. So a supremely perfect being has the perfection of existence.
        • 5. So one cannot think of God except as existing.
        • 6. Therefore, God exists.
        • Illustration
          • The triangle.
      • Strengths
        • An A Priori argument - therefore does not rely on evidence.
        • A supremely perfect being is only perfect if it has omniscience, omnipotence and omnibenevolence. Doesn't point to any kind of deity, but to the deity which has the attributes of the Judaeo-Christian God.
      • Challenges from...
        • Gaunilo
          • Gaunilo's perfect island
            • We can imagine an island that is the greatest of all possible islands - Just because it can be conceived of, this does not mean that is exists - The island analogy implies it is absurd to say that just because you have an idea of something doesn't mean it exists - Gaunilo then claims that either the argument about the perfect island is a joke or that the man making the argument is a fool.
            • Concludes that Anselm cannot demonstrate or prove that the idea of God as the greatest possible being means that it exists in reality.
            • Anselm's response
              • Only TTWNGCBC exists necessarily
                • God is the greatest possible being but that God's existence is necessary.
                  • If you conceive of the greatest possible being you 'conceive of a being which cannot be conceived to exist'
              • Plantinga: 'No intrinsic maximums for TTWNGCBC'
                • He suggests that Anslem could also reply to Gaunilo bu suggesting that however great an island is, there could also be a better one, as there is no 'intrinsic maximums' or limit to the qualities of wealth, treasures and beautiful scenery that Gaunilos island can have.
              • Problems
                • Anselm's argument is not proof of God's existence like the cosmological argument, because Anselm does not think that God's existence is a matter of debate. Instead Anselm is demonstrating what is true, like a scientist repeating an experiment to prove to other people that his ideas are true.
        • Kant
          • 'Existence is not a predicate'
            • For example, one can have an idea of what a unicorn is. However, that does not mean it exists in reality, even though we can think about unicorns as living creatures.
            • Kant is saying that existence is part of the concept of God (an analytic statement) but it does not prove that God exists in reality.
            • for Kant, all philosophical statements or propositions about existence are synthetic - they need to be verified as true or false. God's existence, like any other thing's existence is synthetic and needs to be verified.
          • Responses
            • Charles Hartshorne
              • The problem with Kants argument is that there is a big difference between an idea of God and God existing in reality as well. He rejects Kants claim that existence is not a predicate.
            • Norman Malcolm
              • Suggests that necessary existence could be a predicate of God. He argues that the existence of God is either impossible or necessary.
              • God cannot contingently exist: otherwise God is not the greatest possible being. Gods existence is impossible only if Gods existence is both self contradictory and illegal.


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