The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

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The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 6th, 2017, 7:21 am 

We say that an argument is circular [“begs the question,” “lifts itself by its own bootstraps” or “puts the rabbit in the hat”] when it takes the following form:

“Because it is the case that A is true, it must be the case that A is true.”

Such an argument, of course, proves nothing, for it presumes the very thing it purports to prove.

However it is very often the case that this logical error is cloaked in verbiage that hides its falsehood.

Thus, the ontological argument for the existence of God runs as follows:

“1) It must necessarily be the case that that which nothing more perfect can be thought does exist, for if it were otherwise, we could not conceive of it.

“2) We call such a being “God.”

“3) Therefore, God must exist.”

This argument may be uncloaked by reducing it to its basic form:

“Because we can think that God exists, then God must exist.”

But how does thinking that God exists differ from presuming that God exists? It is the same. Hence, the argument really is this:

“Because it is the case that God exists, it must be the case that God exists.” That is, the argument presumes the very thing it purports to prove—namely, the existence of god.

It does not help to say that we can think of nothing more perfect than that which nothing more perfect can be thought, for this is merely a clumsy repetition of the presumption.

Indeed perfection is itself only an idea that represents nothing independent of our thinking.

[On the other hand, if we are talking about mere physical extension when we say “that which nothing greater can be thought” [as we are decidedly not in this so-called proof of God’s existence], then we are talking about something that can exist independently of our thinking. However, such a thing may be completely inanimate and without consciousness. Further, because nothing can be greater than such a thing does not necessarily mean that other things cannot be just as great.]
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 6th, 2017, 10:03 am 

The "proof" on "god" is wrapped up in its own definition. If we disagree about such a proof it is not simply a case of logic, but rather explication.

If I don't see the logic in such a proof then it is because of how I conceptualise the term in use. The context matters more than anything.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 6th, 2017, 11:07 am 

BJ,

The problem with the ontological proof of God’s existence is one of substance and not explication. Indeed, however set forth, the fundamental argument involves a value judgment.

For example, Anselm of Canterbury claimed that God is “that which nothing greater can be thought.” For the reasons stated in the last paragraph of my OP, Anselm could not have been thinking of mere size. He apparently intended some sort of value judgment.

Value is something that can exist only as a judgment subject to varying opinions. That is, it cannot exist independently of the human mind; for, unlike size, it cannot be objectively weighed or measured.

Descartes’ notion of a “clear and distinct idea” of an absolutely perfect being is subject to the same criticism, for absolute perfection is also a value judgment, and as such, cannot exist independently of the mind.

The whole business boils down to nothing more that this fallacy:

“Because one believes in God, God necessarily exists.”
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 6th, 2017, 11:30 am 

I don't see the fallacy. I would also say it is deeply naïve to suggest that just because you cannot measure something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

I could then say that 1+1=2 is a fallacy for the same reasons you state above. You're conflating logical "proof" and "belief". It looks like a sham, can you tell me why it isn't?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Braininvat on November 6th, 2017, 12:24 pm 

The short early version of the refutation of Anselm is:

This proves the perfect unicorn, too.

Anselm's proof might be an early version of a Category Error. It confuses mental and physical categories with a muddled concept of "existence." As Kant pointed out, there's is no "necessary" existence, i.e. nothing that is required to exist, and existence really adds nothing to a concept. As he and others noted, there are plenty of things we can conceive of that do not exist, and existence is thus not an attribute that adds something to a description. I can describe a unicorn completely without saying "oh...and it exists."

Anselm posited that if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. If it only exists in the mind, then an even greater being must be possible—one which exists both in the mind and in reality. Therefore, this greatest possible being must exist in reality. As someone later pointed out, this presents a concept of "greater" that is ill-defined and pretty much incoherent. Or as Neri puts it: a value judgment. One could amost say Anselm confused ontology and aesthetics, hehe.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 6th, 2017, 3:04 pm 

BJ,

I agree with Braininvat’s analysis.

Regarding mathematics, I would say that, in a sense, it is only a collection of ideas. However, these are ideas well founded in reality, for they are the means whereby physical extension, distance, temporal extent, motion and change are determined and predicted.

Who can really deny, that some things in the world outside of us are larger than others, more distant from us than others, or move and change? We know these things, because they are revealed to us through the senses. The same cannot be said of objects of the imagination, such as God.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 6th, 2017, 6:16 pm 

Premise (1) should be seen to be questionable on its face anyway. Put more bluntly, it reads "we can only imagine the best thing we can imagine because it exists". How so?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 6th, 2017, 11:55 pm 

The flaws in this ontological argument are numerous, or at least there are many ways you can expose its lack of objectivity.

One of the more useful ways of exposing this, because I see it used in other arguments is to categorize this as a proof by definition. But a definition is never a proof of anything. It is at most a premise. Thus even if you were to accept the definition of a greatest possible being as something which must exist, it doesn't actually establish that what has been defined is actual or even possible. One can after all, state any kind of definition, even something which is logically contradictory. Clearly including existence in that definition does not make it exist, any more than defining a dragon as fire breathing means that dragons start any real fires. Because a definition is fundamentally a premise then including existence in the definition would make the ontological argument circular.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 7th, 2017, 3:54 am 

Neri -

It is still flawed. The whole of the scientific and logical endeavor relies on your :

“Because it is the case that A is true, it must be the case that A is true.”


We know through necessary limitations.

I would say that if I can think of something then I can bring about its physical manifestation in way or another, and what is more I MUST do this by my ability to do so.

I think I've made it quite clear before my position is more or less orientated about the phenomenological view, but I can just as quickly change tack and agree with you in different ways.

I have also stated, a long time ago, that the distinction between the ontological and epistemological are merely distinctions of logical convenience. Ontology grounds itself as a category of thought in the “Because it is the case that A is true, it must be the case that A is true.”

Any particular "proof" of god will not lie within logical content. Either the concept of "god" needs to be adjusted to fit, or the concept of "logic" needs to be adjusted to fit.

It is almost akin to telling a veteran baker they know nothing of chemistry and are therefore not fit to bake bread where you with only your theoretical understanding of the chemistry of baking, in practical circumstances, would be unable to produce anything like the quality of bread the professional baker could.

If it is not apparent to you that those that believe in some concept of "god" either possess an approach that disregards logic, or simply parcels it away for their concept of "god", then you're effectively arguing against no one.

I am most certainly not going to suggest that logic is useless. I would merely hint that "logic" is not a "god". If that is your believe then can you prove it?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 7th, 2017, 4:37 am 

Neri » November 6th, 2017, 10:07 am wrote:The whole business boils down to nothing more that this fallacy:

“Because one believes in God, God necessarily exists.”


Most of the arguments for the existence of God connect with some subjective reason why people believe -- which is not to say that this subjective reason is good reason for belief. For example, cosmological arguments and arguments from design, typically go back to the subjective judgement that the existence or beauty of the universe inspires thoughts of a creator or designer. Even the moral argument, which I find particularly detestable, is usually connected with a feeling we need a final authority for morality and social order. These are typical motivations for belief, however bad they may be. The first doesn't jibe with science too well and the second does not give rise to a morality which suitable to mature rational human beings.

This sort of connection is a little harder to find with the ontological argument, which may be why you don't hear this one as often. It bit of a stretch, but perhaps I can connect it with a subjective reasoning somewhat similar to the "fallacy" you describe above. It is basically that the idea of God captures the mind and convinces you of its truth. Something similar was described by Charles Sanders Pierce in "The Neglected Argument for the Reality of God." He justifies it by comparing it loosely to the scientific method, saying we try out this idea in our lives and it works for us. Of course, this isn't even making a pretense at objectivity since the truth is that many try out the idea and it doesn't work for them at all.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 7th, 2017, 5:06 am 

Mitch -

I think the "moral" point is the crux of the problem. I see both sides of the argument as reacting emotionally toward the other (kind of ironic in the face of the scientist whom actively pursues knowledge from a position grounded upon the ideal of objectivity led by logic above emotion.)

Society does, like it or not, shape itself under a vague sense of "higher authority". I can see why many can choose to view this "authority" as being something beyond our direct understanding (and I ten to agree here), yet we have a reasonable proxy of subjectivity to "know" what is good or bad, and even have the ability to refine our views. Logic allows us to order information and understand the meaning and context of information in different circumstances, but it does not as a stand alone subject of knowledge dictate an ethical system.

Me and you and everyone else act under set social systems, personal appropriation to these ideas, and with a belief in improvement of these systems (even if we're ignorant of exactly how this is to be created or may manifest itself.) I think this kind of "belief" in a "betterment" is pretty much what the underlying concept of "god" outlines. I personally don't need any kind of logical proof to back up my claim of wanting to live a "good" life and to be "better".

There is a very peculiar disjoint across these moral views contained in the use of language and the difference in application of logic (meaning in some cases those who idealise logic can, and do, make the mistake of applying it beyond its contextual use (I know I do from time to time.)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 7th, 2017, 11:00 am 

BJ,

Not even Kant equated objects of the imagination with sense objects, for by his lights the former lacked the logical coherence possible with the latter. I think you will find, with good reason, that very few would take the position that our experience of reality is cut from whole cloth by the mind. Even those who profess to believe such a thing act as though the senses yield stubborn facts about the world.

The existence of God is not a necessary prerequisite for morality, for good and evil are more properly derived from a sense of justice rooted in the equality of mankind and the preservation of the social order
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 7th, 2017, 12:20 pm 

BJ,

Yes, the fact that people can and do find a rational basis for morality (i.e. reasons why some things are good and some are bad) punches a hole in the typical argument for morality. I did so myself at the age of 11 largely based on the ideas of psychology (in which I was raised by two psychology majors), though it could be argued that psychology itself was developed under the presumption of a moral/social order. But arguments from evolution and social necessity are not only sufficient in handling such objections but also provide a good basis for constructing a moral code.

But my point above was more the fact that without reasons to ground morality then we don't have the tools for dealing with new situations not covered by some list dictated by some purported historical encounter with God, and the numbers of people ready to speak for God with modern adaptations are legion (like an infestation of demons, frankly) are a source of considerable social conflict. In any case, it is for this this reason that I argue that only such reasons provide any basis for attributing the adjective "absolute" to morality in any way, for an authoritarian basis is just as arbitrary and relative when the authority is divine as when it is a social institution, if not more so.


... but perhaps I have now led the discussion a bit away from the topic, which was the ontological argument...
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Lomax on November 7th, 2017, 4:10 pm 

BadgerJelly » November 7th, 2017, 8:54 am wrote:I would say that if I can think of something then I can bring about its physical manifestation in way or another, and what is more I MUST do this by my ability to do so.

Because you included the word "physical" I will guess that you are not just making a Parmenidean type of argument (if I think of it, it exists in my mind, ergo it exists). Could you explain why the ability to conceive something entails the ability to make it physically exist? (And if it does, we can do away with the "ontological argument": God will be no different to anything else.)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 7th, 2017, 10:00 pm 

Well guys, it seems you deem me some kind of idiot! haha!

I don't mean I can physically conjure up some dragon or something. I just mean that I require the ability to physically attach some idea to matter in order for me to think of it is the first place. Not only this, I MUST render it physically in some fashion for it to be known or it cannot be known.

I would say the biggest problem with the concept of "god" is that it is a very ambiguous concept and that it is based on emotional contents that are not well adapted to translation into words. That is why it is harder to explicate. I have made secret about having a very bizarre personal experience and I can only tell you it was indescribable ... that does little to convince anyone and I just have to accept that. I can perfectly understand people having such an experience and then wandering around the streets preaching about this or that god.

The only way I see "god" as a concept manifested is in viewing "god" as nature/universe.

Neri -

I am a phenomenologist (for want of a better term), so when you make comments about subject and object I just find it closed minded and deeply misguided when you assume I am insinuating some kind of magical land of make believe.

Objects are objects. Imagined or material they are not separate or you're just carrying on the age old tradition of dualism in its scientific guise.

I will repeat, ontology is entwined in epistemological problems. Simply ignoring this for convenience of some argumentation doesn't make the problem disappear. That said it is a necessary limit to set so we can further explore, but to forget to return to the previous split we had to make to expand/frame our knowledge will catch up with us no matter how hard we try to avoid its blatant inconvenience.

The existence of God is not a necessary prerequisite for morality, for good and evil are more properly derived from a sense of justice rooted in the equality of mankind and the preservation of the social order


I never said it was. I can perfectly understand that as a concept to understand being it would fit this role is some form though (by laws of society which must necessarily come into existence somehow - the somehow being the seed we cannot grasp at only infer from a position of present bias.)

Of course all my points will fall away from you if you simply frame the "ontological" argument as physical materialist. If that is how you're presenting the question then you should state that from the start. If you feel there is no need to then you don't really fully understand the problem of ontology in regard to the epistemic issue.

note: I am just trying to give you as best an argument as I can. Much of what I am saying here I do hold to though and I am saying it because I get tired of seeing very immobile refutations about religion and such things that involve some very strange.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 8th, 2017, 4:46 am 

BadgerJelly » November 7th, 2017, 9:00 pm wrote:Well guys, it seems you deem me some kind of idiot! haha!

I don't know where you got that from... (and I am not just talking about me)

Just because someone posts something doesn't mean they are accusing you of not knowing it. They are just contributing to the discussion with points they think are important even if it is reiterating or clarifying (according to them by putting it in their own words) things you said yourself.

BadgerJelly » November 7th, 2017, 9:00 pm wrote:I don't mean I can physically conjure up some dragon or something. I just mean that I require the ability to physically attach some idea to matter in order for me to think of it is the first place. Not only this, I MUST render it physically in some fashion for it to be known or it cannot be known.

Perhaps you are describing a type of nominalism, for when I refer to myself as a nominalist I am basically rejecting the idealism of Plato. I am not saying that ideas do not exist but that when they do, they exist in particular minds somehow encoded in matter and energy. Of course you may be combining that with a kind of materialism/naturalism which I do not. For I actually believe in a non-physical aspect to reality. I just don't believe the human mind to be non-physical with non-physical contents. Nor do I buy into this Neoplatonic dogma that tries to equate mind and universal ideas with some kind of nonphysical reality. The non-physical reality in which I believe is one of particulars also -- just not a part of the mathematical space-time structure of the physical universe.

BadgerJelly » November 7th, 2017, 9:00 pm wrote:I would say the biggest problem with the concept of "god" is that it is a very ambiguous concept and that it is based on emotional contents that are not well adapted to translation into words. That is why it is harder to explicate.

Which only means that the particular concept of "god" you speak of is ambiguous and harder to explicate (at least in your own mind), but you overstep yourself if you speak for everyone. Various people in history have had quite unambiguous concepts of "god." If speaking of the concept of the public at large, then the truth is such ambiguity exists for most things even when they are mathematically precise in a science such as physics.

BadgerJelly » November 7th, 2017, 9:00 pm wrote:The only way I see "god" as a concept manifested is in viewing "god" as nature/universe.

And how is that concept of "god" ambiguous and hard to explicate. This was just such an example I was thinking of above. It is not my concept of "god" BTW. Nor is it the only concept of "god" which is unambiguous.

BadgerJelly » November 7th, 2017, 9:00 pm wrote:note: I am just trying to give you as best an argument as I can. Much of what I am saying here I do hold to though and I am saying it because I get tired of seeing very immobile refutations about religion and such things that involve some very strange.

..?..unfinished thought..?..

some very strange what?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 9th, 2017, 3:59 am 

Mitch -

If I say "Haha!" I would expect people to take it as an attempt at humour.

I cannot remember what the end of that statement was exactly, I think my connection glitched so I lost a sentence of two.

I was just stating that I personally find some of the posturing on this kind of topic forcibly polarized and with an aim to hammer home the ignorance of the other party rather than attempt to understand it. Of course this I snot always the case and doing so can be useful too.

I don't find that the OP has any weight to it. It may as well have argued against the ontological proof of love. This would need to present how we view "love" as existing and what kind of existence it has. I can see a very easy way to cover up this problem by expanding into other ambiguous terms such as "society", "feeling" and "emotion".

I wouldn't say I am presenting any kind of nominalism? I am pretty sure I just described a fw points that would contradict the general idea of nominalism. That said I am sure there is more obscure species of nominalism that would adhere to what I have said in part. All positions have a use and in some contexts they take on a universal meaning. The concept of Platonic Ideals may be useful in establish a ground from which to work from for certain problems (albeit negatively or otherwise.)

Which only means that the particular concept of "god" you speak of is ambiguous and harder to explicate (at least in your own mind), but you overstep yourself if you speak for everyone. Various people in history have had quite unambiguous concepts of "god." If speaking of the concept of the public at large, then the truth is such ambiguity exists for most things even when they are mathematically precise in a science such as physics.


I find this reveals the heart of the problem. I don't see anything wrong with me speaking for everyone, as you put it. My perspective is human and limited. So is everyone else's. That is the heart of what I am saying in relation to experience. We can all sit around a table and describe what it is about the table that makes it a table. I am sure many of us would express this "table" in ways the other had not thought of. In this sense we at least have the façade of a physical item to which we can objectively refer to. The blindness involved is in the concept of "table" having no physical existence yet it's so common to everyday life that we need not worry about it because it is sufficiently universally framed within our lexicon as to not need intense investigation. The concept of "god" is a much more daunting prospect because to make it more real we are inclined to refer to physical items to explicate it, yet funnily enough we're very ready to accept the abstract term of "table" because we understand it as a functional and cultural item. "god" is a much more difficult term to deal with and so I would suggest that a larger degree of openness is needed by all involved to either frame the concept or divide it up as necessary.

It is something like a "meaning" or an "essence", not an item to which any few terms or experiences can be specifically attached.

If someone is against intellectualism and has a view of "god" they are hardly going to be persuaded by intellectual argumentation. Because from this position we're left unable to bring to bear our intellect on this subject as much as we'd like to, it then leaves us open to exploring another avenue. Otherwise you'll find yourself arguing against people who either don't misuse our view of "god" to the extent that we'd like and so remain in agreement with the logical principle of the argument, but nevertheless wish to pursue a line against it that the person posing the argument is simply unwilling to take on wanting a more squishy target to which they can turn around and complain of a lacking intellectual capacity to deal with the problem and deem them "illogical" when they would readily admit, if they understand the term, that they are not making a logical refutation and that logic has little impact upon their beliefs.

I understand that this may be really hard to accept and to deal with. The choice is either we walk away and look for more prime pickings or explore the limitations of applying naught but logic to the topic at hand.

And how is that concept of "god" ambiguous and hard to explicate. This was just such an example I was thinking of above. It is not my concept of "god" BTW. Nor is it the only concept of "god" which is unambiguous.


Again you're consumed by the meaning of the words. If you think that is a good representation of what I mean you're wrong. It is barely anything like what I mean, yet in a narrow "material" sense it is merely an appropriate marker nothing like a experiential reference. When I said "nature/universe" it was most certainly a VERY ambiguous definition because I know what I wish to express would necessarily fail at every attempt because it is something that goes beyond words.

I could write all the words there are in every order possible for all time and still never encapsulate a coherent definition of "god" and what is more peculiar is I could do the very same thing for the term "table" and over time you'd grow less and less certain of what you previously thought "table" meant, the meaning of "table" would dissolve with enough explication. When it dissolves that is something like what I define as "god", but again I find that to be a very empty expression of what I would wish to say and I'd need to continue and continue no end.

And the argumentation against what I say here can easily be brough tto bear against me by stating that we are required to work within certain limits. I agree because it is necessarily so. To know we work within limits is probably the most telling thing there is regarding the disparity between those that say "god exists" and those that say "proof is required."
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 9th, 2017, 8:52 am 

BJ

It is possible that one can be both intelligent and wrong. The two are not mutually exclusive. Certainly, the same may be said of me. However, all arguments should be based upon facts and should be stated clearly and without equivocation.

Of course, if you believe that there are no such things as facts that do not depend on our imagination for their truth, then inevitably our conversations will yield nothing meaningful.

Far from being a substance dualist, I maintain that the whole of reality consists in mass/energy--a single physical substance. Further, as I see it, thought and consciousness are caused by neuronal interactions in the brain and hence are only conditions of the physical substance that comprises the whole of the universe.

It should be clear enough that one who makes a distinction between sense objects and objects of the imagination is not, for that reason, a substance dualist. Rather, one who maintains that there are real things outside of him and that the senses provide facts about these things, is a realist.

Science, of course, depends ultimately upon the senses. Indeed, if we had no senses there would be no science. More than this, without senses, we would have nothing to be conscious of. Nor could we have an imagination, for there would be nothing in our heads upon which an imagination could be built.

Kant, for example, made a sharp distinction between ontology and epistemology. On the one hand, he maintained that there were real things outside of us. On the other hand, he insisted that we could know nothing about them apart from the fact that they existed. So that one may say that Kant ontologically was a realist but epistemicly an idealist.

To make it abundantly clear, I am a realist in both the ontological and epistemic sense in that I unabashedly cleave to the Anglo-American tradition of rational empiricism. To me, there are facts that do not depend on our minds but rather exist quite defiantly in their own right.

A proposition is true only if it corresponds to a fact, and facts are knowable by means of the senses. Because the existence of supernatural beings is not supported by sense data, it is merely an object of the imagination. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is thing whose existence is amply supported by such data, and he will stubbornly continue to exist no matter how hard one may imagine otherwise.

There is such a thing as superstition—pure acts of the imagination. Such things do not flower “from the seed we cannot grasp,” as you put it. Rather, they grow out of ignorance, and there is no magic in ignorance.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 9th, 2017, 11:07 am 

Neri -

I am not convinced you understood my point ... how am I to know?

I guess the problem between those who have a non-logical "proof" of god then look upon those that fail to understand what they say as inhabiting their own belief in the form of the probable framed within the ability to measure with universals (which are other forms of belief, albeit experientially proven to satisfy experience.)

I am convinced that the line is drawn in the sand here and the fact that no one can discern where the line is, or what it is, is in itself a proof of two positions that are strangely related yet for he most part incompatible.

to return to your OP and #1, what is there we can say about perfection? Could your life or anyone else's for that matter, be better? I would say that some improvement could be met with and that I cannot measure such a thing and present "evidence" of it that could not be disputed in some way or another. If we are saying the concept of "god" is a concept of perfection then I have no idea what this means other than to work toward things being better for me. It is a confusing idea.

Science, of course, depends ultimately upon the senses.


Sense is the god of science? It is "ultimate" therefore perfection.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Braininvat on November 9th, 2017, 12:35 pm 

Good god, what a lot of verbiage to address a topic than can be handled with "hey this also proves the existence of the greatest unicorn."
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 9th, 2017, 1:19 pm 

I was thinking to say that I draw the line in a different way, when I was side-tracked by BJ's comment to observe that lines which seem unjustified in some ways can be quite justified in others. Just because you cannot see the line physically drawn in the sky doesn't mean the line is not conceptually clear and distinct. But back to the particular line which I am referring to. The ambiguity in such subjective matters as a perfect life or a perfect being does not suggest to me a universal problem with the idea of perfection itself, which can be handled quite precisely in another arena such as mathematics and physics with the idea of limits. Then the idea plays an extremely useful (even vital) role whether we can see a concrete example of what the limit represents or not. Thus I am inclined to say that the problem lies with the non-linearity and subjectivity of the topic rather than with the idea of perfection. I certainly have no idea what a perfect life or a perfect world even means, not only because the measures are subjective but the things are too multi-dimensional, and it seems likely to me that the same would apply to "perfect being" also.

The above shows how easily we are getting side-tracked by different issues, and perhaps it is simply because we have so much agree upon with regards to the topic that we have hunt in the details for an issue of contention in which to carry on a discussion.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 9th, 2017, 11:51 pm 

Biv -

Before I can learn to write less I must first learn to write more ;)

Mitch -

Was not trying to sidetrack at all.

“1) It must necessarily be the case that that which nothing more perfect can be thought does exist, for if it were otherwise, we could not conceive of it.

“2) We call such a being “God.”

“3) Therefore, God must exist.”


Neri is relying on a very specific definition of "god". If we just take point (1) and break it down it is an interesting topic. It is hard to judge in day-to-day life what is 'good' or 'better'. I imagine we all feel we work toward some over all improvement and that the idea of 'perfection' has a lot to do with this (even though we're unsure of what 'perfection' means in a realistic sense and often when we think we're near to it we're fooled.)

note: I held back in last response to Neri for fear of going making the thread more complex.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 10th, 2017, 2:44 am 

BadgerJelly » November 9th, 2017, 10:51 pm wrote:
“1) It must necessarily be the case that that which nothing more perfect can be thought does exist, for if it were otherwise, we could not conceive of it.

“2) We call such a being “God.”

“3) Therefore, God must exist.”


Neri is relying on a very specific definition of "god". If we just take point (1) and break it down it is an interesting topic. It is hard to judge in day-to-day life what is 'good' or 'better'. I imagine we all feel we work toward some over all improvement and that the idea of 'perfection' has a lot to do with this (even though we're unsure of what 'perfection' means in a realistic sense and often when we think we're near to it we're fooled.)

note: I held back in last response to Neri for fear of going making the thread more complex.


Correction: The ontological argument is relying on a very specific definition of God. Surely you do not think this is Neri's argument.

Yes, judgments with regards to what is good or better are very subjective -- thus my comments above.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 10th, 2017, 4:49 am 

Mitch -

The way I see it he's siding one form of dogmatism with another through the medium of a language, which is in itself circular in nature, and a language that does not hold fast to pure logical notion, in a universe which the rigid materialist would deny any logical meaning for.

It appear to be something like an eskimo insisting on several different terms for snow when you yourself see absolutely no measureable difference between what they are referring to. Me being the arsehole that I am would even go as far to say that "snow" doesn't exist, and that it's merely an expression of a given phenomenon, or two question how many crystalline structures of water are needed to culminate into something we can refer to as "snow", showing that is exists as a function of understanding rather than a physical component of the environment. It's physical composition being a mere matter of practicality rather than as a description of its structure (from which the ignorant would merely describe the situation as being inundated with bits of crystalline water) rather than as "harder to walk through", "better area for sleeping" or some other sign the "snow" believer is utterly blind to.

To aspire toward a geometric perfection is different from an aspiration toward some supreme moral being how exactly? It this because I cannot imagine a perfect circle or bring about its existence or because I cannot imagine a perfect moral being and bring about its existence?

I think general religious theme is based around the idea of human perfection. Does the perfect human create the perfect circle or the perfect circle create the perfect human? Religion say yes to the prior and science yes to the later (albeit in a veiled manner.)

Curious to see which of these points gets the most attention? I am guessing the easiest one to attack and ridicule?

Biv -

Maybe a horse aspires to be something like a "unicorn"? :P
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 10th, 2017, 5:44 am 

BadgerJelly » November 10th, 2017, 3:49 am wrote:
It appear to be something like an eskimo insisting on several different terms for snow when you yourself see absolutely no measureable difference between what they are referring to. Me being the arsehole that I am would even go as far to say that "snow" doesn't exist, and that it's merely an expression of a given phenomenon, or two question how many crystalline structures of water are needed to culminate into something we can refer to as "snow", showing that is exists as a function of understanding rather than a physical component of the environment. It's physical composition being a mere matter of practicality rather than as a description of its structure (from which the ignorant would merely describe the situation as being inundated with bits of crystalline water) rather than as "harder to walk through", "better area for sleeping" or some other sign the "snow" believer is utterly blind to.

..?....so... being the expression of a phenomenon means it does not exist???

If your point is that we should not confuse the artifacts of language with objective reality then I couldn't agree more. It certainly seems to me that this is something I see quite frequently in the whole history of philosophy.

BadgerJelly » November 10th, 2017, 3:49 am wrote:To aspire toward a geometric perfection is different from an aspiration toward some supreme moral being how exactly? It this because I cannot imagine a perfect circle or bring about its existence or because I cannot imagine a perfect moral being and bring about its existence?

The problem I was having was understanding what a "perfect being" even means. But you have refined it considerably by specifying the dimension of morality in which perfection is to be sought. In this I have no difficulty. This would be a being against which there is no just moral cause. But then the problem for the argument would be that this hardly implies any kind of singularity (or existence for that matter).

BadgerJelly » November 10th, 2017, 3:49 am wrote:I think general religious theme is based around the idea of human perfection.

It is a common religious theme but it is not essential to religion in general.

BadgerJelly » November 10th, 2017, 3:49 am wrote: Does the perfect human create the perfect circle or the perfect circle create the perfect human? Religion say yes to the prior and science yes to the later (albeit in a veiled manner.)

Only science has anything like a singular voice. Science says yes to the former (the correct use of reason enables us to devise a device like a compass to make a circle to any desired degree of precision as far as this is allowed by the nature of the universe), and no to the latter (evolution creates and "perfects" humans not circles).

BadgerJelly » November 10th, 2017, 3:49 am wrote:
Curious to see which of these points gets the most attention? I am guessing the easiest one to attack and ridicule?

I would suggest another possibility.... like the one which interests us most (whether this happens by enlightening us or merely by puzzling us).

Other things may be ignored for a variety of reasons, such as being something on which one has no opinion or on which one sees no way of making any reasonable judgement.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 10th, 2017, 7:39 am 

Mitch -

..?....so... being the expression of a phenomenon means it does not exist???


Precisely the point the religious person would make against some refutation of "god'. It is their expression of some phenomenon, so if you say it doesn't exist they cannot compute this.

It makes a whole lot more sense, at least to me, to ask someone who says "god exists" to express what they mean better so you can form some kind of common parse and agreement.

The ontological problem is the epistemic problem. They are the same thing. If we talk about something "existing" then we have to understand the ways in which "things" can exist and what this means. From here all philosophical investigation ensues.

An "ontological proof" of any kind of "existence" is circular. Ontology, which is the study of existence and reality, used to prove, or disprove, existence does nothing other than set up certain rules that make it impossible for the thing that is opposed to be wished away, or to set up the rules that make it so that what is trying to be proven is necessarily proven.

Of course this is a much mor efruitful pursuit if your meaning of ontology is based only on realist materialism. From there unless you can present a block of mass, or a field of energy, your idea is merely reduced to being the misfirings of some neurons.

Any of that worth much?
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 10th, 2017, 10:07 am 

BJ,

No one has claimed that “sense is the God of science,” as you put it. On the contrary, nothing is free of all error and this applies to sense data. However, the scientific method is the best we can do in the search for truth. Clearly, science has advanced human knowledge far more than phenomenological navel gazing.
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby BadgerJelly on November 10th, 2017, 10:25 am 

Neri » November 10th, 2017, 10:07 pm wrote:BJ,

No one has claimed that “sense is the God of science,” as you put it. On the contrary, nothing is free of all error and this applies to sense data. However, the scientific method is the best we can do in the search for truth. Clearly, science has advanced human knowledge far more than phenomenological navel gazing.


You just proved my point. And no, I don't think science does give the avenue to a search for truth. Alone it is utterly meaningless. Your value for science is more real and true than science itself. If you disagree with that then you have to agree with me ... which will hurt, and pain regulates how you value and what you value.

Some abstract construction has truth only as far as it is of use in creating something (be it to contribute to your being positively or negatively. I'd say we all lean toward the "positive" more often than not, and when we don't we do so hoping for a greater positive pay-off in the future - therein lies a piece of power dogma of religious institutions.)
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby Neri on November 11th, 2017, 12:37 pm 

BJ,

The value of science does not depend on its utility or on whether I or anyone else approves of it. Nor does it depend upon opinion. It depends upon observable fact. This gives it its foothold in reality as truth independent of the imagination.

[Only pseudo-sciences such as psychology and climatology depend upon opinion.]
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Re: The illogic of the Ontological Proof of God's Existence

Postby mitchellmckain on November 11th, 2017, 3:42 pm 

Neri » November 11th, 2017, 11:37 am wrote:[Only pseudo-sciences such as psychology and climatology depend upon opinion.]


Neri, you go too far! Psychology and Climatology are not pseudoscience. Soft science? Ok. That is fair. Psychology in particular is certainly somewhat subject to the winds of paradigm. And this is only one end of a gradual spectrum from physics, to biology and climatology, to medicine and psychology. But pseudoscience is not an appropriate description. These are sciences and are just as dedicated to the ideals of the scientific method and basing their conclusions on the objective evidence. Complexity and the involement of human beings and their perceptions as the subject matter make this more difficult, but the ideals and methodology is still there.


Pseudoscience is the word for something that calls itself science when their methodology is nothing but rhetoric. Creationism is pseudoscience. A lot of alternative medicine is guilty of pseudoscience. But psychology and climatology? Uh uh. No way man!
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