Ontological Argument

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Structure

The idea of an argument that:

  • An argument that supports a being that transcends the universe.
Foundation (A)

Summary

1. Our understanding of God is a being than which no greater can be conceived.
2. The idea of God exists in the mind.
3. A being which exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only in the mind.
4. If God only exists in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater being—that which exists in reality.
5. We cannot be imagining something that is greater than God.
6. Therefore, God exists.

Discussion

1. Our understanding of God is a being than which no greater can be conceived.

2. The idea of God exists in the mind.

3. A being which exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only in the mind.

4. If God only exists in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater being—that which exists in reality.

5. We cannot be imagining something that is greater than God.

6. Therefore, God exists.

Conclusion

1. Supports a being that transcends the universe.

The "greatest being" would not be bound by space or time, and would therefore be outside of them (i.e. transcend the universe).

2. Supports a being that is omnipotent.

The "greatest being" would have unlimited power.

3. Supports a being that is omniscient.

The "greatest being" would know all things.

4. Supports a being that is omnibenevolent.

The "greatest being" would be perfectly good.

Foundation (B)

Summary

1. There is existence.
2. Existence is a perfection above which no perfection may be conceived.
3. God is perfection and perfection in existence.
4. Existence is a singular and simple reality; there is no metaphysical pluralism.
5. That singular reality is graded in intensity in a scale of perfection (that is, a denial of a pure monism).
6. That scale must have a limit point, a point of greatest intensity and of greatest existence.
7. Hence, God exists.

Discussion

1. There is existence.

2. Existence is a perfection above which no perfection may be conceived.

3. God is perfection and perfection in existence.

4. Existence is a singular and simple reality; there is no metaphysical pluralism.

5. That singular reality is graded in intensity in a scale of perfection (that is, a denial of a pure monism).

6. That scale must have a limit point, a point of greatest intensity and of greatest existence.

7. Therefore, God exists.

Conclusion

1. Supports a being that transcends the universe.

The "greatest being" would not be bound by space or time, and would therefore be outside of them (i.e. transcend the universe).

2. Supports a being that is omnipotent.

The "greatest being" would have unlimited power.

3. Supports a being that is omniscient.

The "greatest being" would know all things.

4. Supports a being that is omnibenevolent.

The "greatest being" would be perfectly good.

Foundation (C)

Summary

1. A being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent 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 omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being exists.
5. Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being exists.
6. Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being exists.

Discussion

1. A being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent 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 omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being exists.

5. Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being exists.

6. Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being exists.

Conclusion

1. Supports a being that transcends the universe.

A "maximally excellent being" would not be bound by space or time, and would therefore be outside of them (i.e. transcend the universe).

2. Supports a being that is omnipotent.

This is part of the argument's conclusion.

3. Supports a being that is omniscient.

This is part of the argument's conclusion.

4. Supports a being that is omnibenevolent.

This is part of the argument's conclusion.

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