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On babies, bathwater, matters ontological and Plantinga . . .

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I think that sometimes, it helps to pull back a bit and reflect on the meta . . . philosophical . . . issues connected to design, mind, being, cause and effect, what it would mean to be a necessary being, etc.

I have also been thinking in that context, that the modern, modal ontological argument championed by Plantinga (and with some roots in Godel etc) is a good place to begin from, and so, I have blogged on that here, beginning:


>> Perhaps the most controversial of the major arguments pointing to God is the ontological argument. Many think it is little more than verbal trickery, and are highly dismissive. Others are fond of parodying and dismissing it.

But, we need to pause and ask a little question.

Alvin Plantinga, for a generation, has been a leading and widely respected American philosopher: so let us ponder,

Q: if the ontological argument family is so easily brushed aside, why is he — obviously highly intelligent and informed — a major champion of the argument in our day, specifically the modal form?

A: Maybe, then, there is more to this argument than meets the eye, and we should pause and consider whether one issue is that it is subtle and sophisticated, thus easily misunderstood and caricatured then thrown away with a forest of knocked over strawmen. Besides, the key modern concept, of a maximally great being — one of maximal excellence across possible worlds — helps us understand in a profound way several key ideas in the theistic concept of God. (That, BTW, is one of the benefits of such arguments, they enrich our understanding of theology.) Last, but not least, this argument not only sharpens up our logic skills, but it is a part of a cumulative case that sets up the question that to reject theism, what are you implicitly committing yourself to, and is that position, in aggregate, a reasonable view? [For instance, it turns out that as necessity of being is pivotal to the idea of being God and being eternal, one is looking at implying that God is impossible, a pretty stiff claim to defend.]

 Of course, a subtle, sophisticated and frankly quite technical argument is not an argument that is easy to grasp, and is not a part of a case made while standing on one foot, so to speak. Pull up an easy chair, and let us take a little while to contemplate. It may well be more than worth it . . .  [MORE]>>


Any thoughts, especially on possible worlds, possible/impossible beings, necessary/contingent beings, enabling causal factors [thus, first principles of right reason including causality], the self-referential incoherence of scientific materialism, the implication of thoughts revealed long before their time, and the like? END

PS: Just worked for me. kairosfocus
Thanks, JS: My links have gone all misbehavin' on me, strange. I will have to work to try to fix. Overnight, sorry very tired just now. Here is the link on that worldviews stuff page: Here. I hope WP behaves well. KF kairosfocus
Thanks for the help, KF. In a lot of ways I'm swimming over my head here. For instance, I'm going to have to read and ponder your excellent comment on deductive logic for a bit. ("This is what KF does in his easy chair?!" Lol.) But I have discovered (by inductive reasoning, I'm thinkin') that throwing myself headlong into the deep water is what it takes sometimes for me to learn. I'm looking forward to reading your post on A Nicene Creed-based Systematic Theology as well. (Hmm. I've got the html right, but copy/pasting the url ain't working. P.S. Your link at Comment 5 doesn't seem to be working either.) jstanley01
PS: Here -- HT WLC's QA series at RF -- is a case in point, an argument that some substratum of the physical cosmos [which I suppose may here include a multiverse] is the necessary being, and a brief response. Ask yourself, whether this explains other relevant facts, etc. Also, bonus, cf WLC here on God as necessary being and the ontological argument as challenging atheists -- deniers of the existence of God, not mere doubters -- to show cause for God being an impossible being. kairosfocus
JS01: On proving things by deductive logic: 1 --> Deductive arguments can show that a belief is valid relative to reasonable or even credibly true premises. 2 --> In so doing, it may draw out surprising points, and may lead us to grow intellectually. 3 --> A sound argument, valid and resting on true and well-warranted premises, guarantees to practical certainty, the conclusion. (You will see that I do not say absolute.) 4 --> Such an argument also draws out the comparative difficulties challenges of alternative start-points. p1 => q, A says. Someone, B, hostile to q objects, ~q, so ~ p1. 5 --> Too often, we let objectors get away at this point, but ~p1 is not enough, we are dealing with worldviews foundation. Maybe there are live options p2, p3, . . . pn, n being fairly small. 6 --> So, where do these end up? In aggregate on key worldviews matters -- on factual adequacy, coherence, elegantly simple and powerful explanatory power [the three touchstones of comparative difficulties analysis] -- which of the alternatives is best despite residual difficulties? [Worldviews ALL bristle with difficulties.] 7 --> In the case above, the issue of a credibly contingent cosmos crying out for a necessary being root, and evident fine tuning point to the seriousness of the alternative, a necessary being who is maximally great. The concept is not simply idly snatched out of thin air, it is focussing the question, what sort of necessary being best explains the credibly contingent world we find ourselves in? Where, we may see that if something now is, something always was. That is, a contingent being must have a causal root in a necessary one. And, we live in a credibly contingent cosmos, as contingent beings ourselves. 8 --> A responsible rebuttal needs to look at that concept of maximal greatness and challenge its POSSIBILITY, given the perhaps surprising consequence that a serious candidate NB is either impossible or actual. 9 --> And impossibility pivots on incoherence of core claimed attributes, so, is there an inconsistency across great-making properties? (Formerly atheists commonly asserted yes via the deductive form problem of evil, but as the linked argument links, Plantinga knocked this out of play decades ago.) So, now, do objectors have a good reason to posit the "possibility" that a MGB does not exist . . . i.e. is impossible? If so, what is it? KF kairosfocus
Hi JS01: The argument hinges on the concept of modes of being, which require understanding. In particular, it hinges on God being a serious candidate necessary being. Such a candidate will either be impossible or else actual. In that context, the objection is a bit of a strawman game that reminds me of those math proofs that implicitly divide by zero then announce voila, 1 = 2. It ducks the issue of God, as to essence, being such a serious candidate necessary being, and instead posits a god [note the small-g] who is a contingent being. The question at stake has been begged. That is a part of why it is important to identify what is the crux of the argument. A MGB, would be necessary if it is at all possible. So, the proper question is that issue: possible vs impossible. Before going further with in effect, it is possible that a MGB is impossible, then saying let's stand on that without warrant, runs into trouble. Notice, my core point was, to reject the argument you face the challenge of decisively undermining the possibility of such a serious candidate necessary being. The counter argument only succeeds in underscoring that point, while dodging the issue that a serious candidate necessary being will either be impossible or actual. And as for undermining the seriousness of the candidacy, let's hear an alternate explanation of the nature for something that if real would be eternal and the root of all other being, independent of any other being for existence, etc. Such, I submit, is clearly a claimed necessary being, and is not comparable to a suggested parody like a flying spaghetti monster -- material, made of arranged components etc, thus manifestly contingent. So let's not fall into something like the implicit divide by zero. And, S5 logic is interesting, but we need not go there in detail. KF PS: Oh yes, we live in a credibly contingent cosmos. Even through a -- similarly contingent -- multiverse, that cries out for a causal root in an adequate necessary being. So, the idea of a necessary being causally adequate to account for a cosmos is not a notion pulled out of thin air. Multiply by fine tuning and the best explanation being a cosmos-building designer. See what that points to. (We need not here go into the further strands of the cumulative case rope for the moment.) kairosfocus
My head starts to spin a bit, when trying to follow the formal logic of things like Axiom S5 as it relates to Plantinga. What I'm wondering about tonight, looking at it, is if the Ontological Argument isn't based on the human intuition that, if it is possible that God exists, then He must exist. Which sounds pretty darn good to me -- although that may not mean much, seeing as how I'm a biased sample (perhaps even, as we say on the shooting range, "a flier") who believes that God exists much more surely than I believe that you exist. (No insult intended, KF... :D ) That said, on the general principle that an argument can be no truer than its premise, I don't see how it is possible to prove anything by deductive logic. Does Plantinga claim that he has proven God's existence? Or that he has proven God's existence given his premise? I'll take a wild stab in the dark that it would be the latter. But the cool thing that I think I'm seeing, it looks to me like the truth or falsity of Plantinga's premise frames the debate between the materialists and the design theorists exactly. Here's the version of his argument (bold emphasis added) as it appears at the above Wiki leak... I mean link... LINK!!! (Sorry, Snowden's got me a little skittish.*):
1. A being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and 2. A being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world. 3. It is possible that there is a being that has maximal greatness. (Premise) 4. Therefore, possibly, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good being exists. 5. Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists. 6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
Then Wikipedia reports the results of someone who reversed the premise (bold emphasis added):
Juan Manuel Correa argued that the argument can be used to prove that God does not exist simply by affirming that it is possible that God does not exist:[citation needed] 1. A being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and 2. A being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world. 3. It is possible that there is not a being that has maximal greatness. (Premise) 4. Therefore, possibly, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good being does not exist. 5. Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being does not exist. 6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being does not exist.
So you reverse the premise and you get the opposite result. Is this supposed to be surprising? Sounds only logical to me. Of course premises are always arguable (that's my premise, and I'm stickin' to it). Duh. Yeah and verily, but the argument over which of the two premise 3's is true, that is the whole sum and substance of the ongoing debate. Right? The materialists are saying that it is possible that there is no intelligent designer because there is no need for one. While the design theorists say it is possible that there is an intelligent designer because there is a need for one. Eh? _______ *NOTE: Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me. jstanley01
Let's draw up an easy chair and ponder wider issues . . . kairosfocus

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