Apologetics Thursday – Ontological Argument Debate

John Anselm’s Law. Basic ontological argument. Here’s a Wiki bit on it: Anselm defined God as “that than which nothing greater can be conceived”, and argued that this being must exist in the mind; even in the mind of the person who denies the existence of God. He suggested 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.

Chris Fisher Anselm sounds like a lunatic.

John Really, and is that how you feel about ontology in general?

John Or is this the first you have ever even heard of it?

Chris Fisher John So, what necessitates that God is the greatest being imaginable? And who decides what “greatest” means? If I think pink is the greatest color, then God must be pink. If I think two hats are better than one, then God must have two hats. It is absurd and arbitrary. Explain how Anselm’s quote even borders on rationality.

John Chris Fisher, Anselm has been critiqued at length. Show me how an atheistic position even borders on rationality.

Chris Fisher I’m not an atheist. I just dont buy absolute nonsense arguments.

Chris Fisher Care to answer my questions?

John Chris Fisher, No. I do not. As I said, Anslem’s ontology has been critiqued at length. You ask who decides what “greatest” is — greatest is that for which there can be nothing greater than. I think that’s self-explanatory. Just like “truth.” Truth exists externally from our perceptions of truth. True is just true.

John There are many, many, many, … things in philosophy that I cannot wrap my mind around. But it isn’t fair for me to just dismiss them as nonsensical statements. I’ve not the skill.

John Anselm’s premise, is definition of God is “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.” I think it is a pretty good premise. I certainly stand upon it when I discuss the purposes for which the universe was created — and that for the highest orde…See More

Chris Fisher I did give reasons why the argument is irrational: it is arbitrary (and I give examples) and the assumptions just have no basis in reality. Your response is an appeal to authority and a “trust me, this seemingly nonsensical argument is legit”. Definitely no one should take Anselm seriously.

John The argument runs from the premise. You may state that the premise is not rational, but the premise is not part of the ontological problem. The premise is what it is. What follows is the concern, and whether such must follow.

John My appeal to authority, Sacred Scripture and nature, came later, after my discussion of the definition of “great” and “true” as being self-explanatory and unconcerned in the least about of perceptions of what is greatest and truly true. These exist externally to our perceptions. You chose, apparently, to skip that part.

John Anselm may have been wrong — atheist philosophers such as Hume certainly think so — but I don’t think you can call him a lunatic. There’s is another type of logical fallacy there called ad hominem.

Chris Fisher John, Ad Hominem is a widely misunderstood fallacy. An Ad Hominem is not just any “name calling”. Might as well say that Jesus fell for the Ad Hominem fallacy. The Ad Hominem fallacy is an argument that someone’s argument should be dismissed due to that name calling. If you were to say “Hume was an atheist, so he was wrong about his objections to Anselm”… then that would be an Ad Hominem.

I called Anselm a lunatic, because his argument has zero basis in reality. It doesn’t make sense. Observe:

1. God is the fattest being in we can imagine.
2. Assume God is just imaginary.
3. A real God is definitely fatter than an imaginary God.
4. Therefore God exists.

The amount of raw and speculative assumptions embedded in the proof are insane. Again, what necessitates that God is the greatest being imaginable (an idea with origins in Plato’s Republic and not in the Bible)? Who gets to define what “greatest” means? Is it not just the etymological fallacy to assume that existence is included in the concept of “greatest being imaginable”? What if someone were to argue (as theists do) that God is limitless, and existence implies limits?

The entire argument is just a mess of absurdities.

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