Strengths and Weaknesses of the Ontological Argument

  • Created by: PRM98
  • Created on: 04-04-16 16:59

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Ontological Argument

Advantages

  • There is no need for empirical evidence to prove God's existence.
  • A strength of an a priori argument is that if you accept the premise then the conclusion must be true as it is logically necessary.
  • God must, by definition, exist. To accept on the one hand that God is 'that than which no greater can be conceived' and then to say that God doesn't exist is to make a logical error.
  • The argument is intellectually stimulating and logically satisfying.
  • It forces the believer to consider carefully what they mean by the term God.
  • Plantinga: He starts his argument with a scientific hypothesis and so avoids the immediate problems associated with existence as a predicate and the rejection of the definition- is he only delaying it?
  • If the multiverse theory is proved correct then Plantinga's argument becomes mathematically and logically sound.

Disadvantages

  • Limitation of an a  priori argument is that if one premise is shown to be inaccurate the whole argument falls to pieces.
  • Kant: We can simply reject the definition.
  • Kant: Existence is not a predicate. If we add or take away existence from something, it does not change the definition. You cannot define God into existence.
  • Russell: You cannot say existence is predicate otherwise you could say this: 1. Men exist  2. Father Christmas is a man  3. Therefore Father Christmas exists. This is syllogism.
  • Russell: Anselm makes the Ontological Argument into an intention when really it is only a extension.
  • Davies: Accuses Anselm of turning an existence 'is' into a defining 'is'- Conflation!
  • Hume:Necessary existence is not a coherent concept as existence can only be contingent.
  • God's characteristics are contradictory e.g. an Omnipotent God could create a stone he couldn't lift.
  • If the multiverse theory is proved wrong then the whole argument falls apart.
  • If there are an infinite number of worlds with an infinite number of possibilities then there must be a world in which no God exists.
  • The multiverse theory only says there is more than one universe not an infinite number and thus not an infinite number of possibilities.

Evaluation

 Anselm's starting point was belief in God and thus it is not fair to criticise it as objective proof- for Anselm it was more of a meditation on his already existing faith than an attempt to prove God's existence to the atheist. Anti-realism: Statements are not objectively true but subjectively true within the religious community. Wittgenstein's idea of Language Games- the argument makes sense within the religious community. In the end, the argument must be analytically sound and in this case this is only so if the premise is universally accepted. If we reject the definition then the argument fails. Thus, the argument cannot work as objective proof. 

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