It is very hard to make sense of the claim that such a God is deficient in some relevant respect. As before, the argument includes a premise asserting that God is a being than which a greater cannot be conceived. Anselm is saying that if you imagine the concept of God in your mind, then that’s not really God because there is something “greater” than a God that only exists in your mind: a God that exists in reality too. It can be a complement or an insult depending on how it’s used. The claim that an unlimited being B exists at some world W clearly entails that B always exists at W (that is, that B‘s existence is eternal or everlasting in W), but this doesn’t clearly entail that B necessarily exists (that is, that B exists at every logically possible world). As we have seen, Plantinga expressly defines maximal excellence in such terms. U. S. A. For example, the “fine-tuning” version of the design argument depends on empirical evidence of intelligent design; in particular, it turns on the empirical claim that, as a nomological matter, that is, as a matter of law, life could not have developed if certain fundamental properties of the universe were to have differed even slightly from what they are. By definition, God is a being than which none greater can be imagined. One natural interpretation of this somewhat ambiguous passage is that Aquinas is rejecting premise 2 of Anselm’s argument on the ground that, while we can rehearse the words “a being than which none greater can be imagined” in our minds, we have no idea of what this sequence of words really means. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) directs his famous objection at premise 3’s claim that a being that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only as an idea in the mind. To be perfectly just is always to give every person exactly what she deserves. Plantinga simply builds necessary existence into the very notion of maximal greatness. The intuition underlying AxS5 is, as James Sennett puts it, that “all propositions bear their modal status necessarily.” But, according to this line of criticism, Plantinga’s version is unconvincing insofar as it rests on a controversial principle of modal logic. According to atheist Arnold Guminski. Email: To say that x instantiates a property P is hence to presuppose that x exists. Perhaps the most influential of contemporary modal arguments is Plantinga’s version. There is a definite connection between the notions of dependency and inferiority, and independence and superiority. Anselm started with the idea that God is “that, than which nothing greater can be conceived.” If you think God is just a powerful creator of the universe who was made by some other god, than what you’re thinking of isn’t God, because there is something greater than it (i.e. The ontological argument assumes the definition of God purported by classical theism: that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. Moreover, one can plausibly argue that necessary existence is a great-making property. As was pointed out recently in this space, the argument’s origin can be found in the writings of the eleventh century saint and doctor of the Church, Anselm of Canterbury. To begin with, necessary existence, unlike mere existence, seems clearly to be a property. Normally, existential claims don’t follow from conceptual claims. One of Anselm’s contemporaries, a monk named Gaunilo, tried to refute the argument by parodying it in order to show its absurdities (a technique called reductio ad absurdum). While there are several different versions of the argument, all purport to show that it is self-contradictory to deny that there exists a greatest possible being. Norman Malcolm expresses the argument as follows: The doctrine that existence is a perfection is remarkably queer. Since Premise 3 asserts that existence is a perfection, it follows that B lacks a perfection. To defend this further claim, one needs to give an argument that the notion of a contingent eternal being is self-contradictory. In the Fifth Objections the objector argues that ‘if a thing lacks existence, we do not say it is imperfect, or deprived of a perfection, but say instead that it is nothing at all' and that we can just as easily place existence among the perfections of a triangle. If it is possible that God exists, then God must exist in some possible world or description of reality. Most arguments for God’s existence start from something we observe in the world that logically infer God as the cause of these observable effects (e.g. Findlay, J.N., “God’s Existence is Necessarily Impossible,” from Flew, Antony and MacIntyre, Alasdair, Malcolm, Norman, “Anselm’s Ontological Argument,”, Pike, Nelson, “Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action,”. As Kant puts the point: Being is evidently not a real predicate, that is, a conception of something which is added to the conception of some other thing. Since there are only two possibilities with respect to W and one entails the impossibility of an unlimited being and the other entails the necessity of an unlimited being, it follows that the existence of an unlimited being is either logically necessary or logically impossible. Likewise, if I want to prove that bachelors, unicorns, or viruses don’t exist, I must do the same. If any of the properties that are conceptually essential to the notion of God do not admit of an intrinsic maximum, then Anselm’s argument strategy will not work because, like Guanilo’s concept of a piland, the relevant concept of God is incoherent. The idea here is that existence is very different from, say, the property of lovingness. But to the extent that existence doesn’t add to the greatness of a thing, the classic version of the ontological argument fails. Thus, if moral perfection entails, as seems reasonable, being perfectly just and merciful, then the concept of moral perfection is inconsistent. One influential attempts to ground the ontological argument in the notion of God as an unlimited being. Here is the second version of the ontological argument as Anselm states it: God is that, than which nothing greater can be conceived.… And [God] assuredly exists so truly, that it cannot be conceived not to exist. It is possible that a maximally great being exists. Accordingly, the trick is to show that a maximally great being exists in some world W because it immediately follows from this claim that such a being exists in every world, including our own. Thus, for example, we can determine that there are no square circles in the world without going out and looking under every rock to see whether there is a square circle there. Such an If so, then a being cannot be perfectly just and perfectly merciful. But this is an irreconcilable contradiction. A piland that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is greater than a piland that exists only as an idea in the mind. Therefore, God necessarily exists in reality. Thus, if a piland exists only as an idea in the mind, then we can imagine an island that is greater than a piland (that is, a greatest possible island that does exist). For, it is possible to conceive of a being which cannot be conceived not to exist; and this is greater than one which can be conceived not to exist. Premise 3 asserts that existence is a perfection or great-making property. Those of the first set are dependent for their continued existence on gentle handling; those of the second set are not. As my friend Jimmy Akin once put it: “Instead of being too good to be true, God turns out to be too good not to be true.”. In this conception it will not make sense to say that He depends on anything for coming into or continuing in existence. He said that one could conceive of an island “than which none greater can be conceived” but it wouldn’t follow that such a perfect island actually exists. Anselm’s Second Version of the Ontological Argument. Descartes’ ontological argument is an echo of the original ontological argument for the existence of God as proposed by St. Anselm in the 11th century. Gaunilo of Marmoutier, a monk and contemporary of Anselm’s, is responsible for one of the most important criticisms of Anselm’s argument. This second version appears to be less vulnerable to Kantian criticisms than the first. ). Thus, if God doesn’t exist at W, then God doesn’t exist in any logically possible world. Aquinas said that since we don’t have direct knowledge of God’s essence (or what he’s like) this means we must reason to God’s existence (which just is his essence) from what we observe and so we can’t have self-evident knowledge that God exists (even through Anselm’s argument).

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