Should we stop using the Ontological Argument?


(Juan Romero) #1


Hi, I’m new around here.
I recently came across a YouTuber known as “Emperor Atheist”, who has a great amount of videos attacking Christianity. I found this one pretty interesting, since he refuted the Ontological Argument pretty easily and I found no objections.
Should we stop using this argument in debates?
Or are there good refutations of EA’s refutation?


(Christy Hemphill) #2

Yes. Because you usually can’t argue people into faith anyway, so better to focus on being a loving, service-oriented person who goes out and makes the world a better place in Jesus’ name.


(George Brooks) #3

Way back in Philosophy 101, I always thought that the asserter of this argument is playing a semantic trick by trying to make the phrase “exists in concept” (or “exists in the mind”) semantically equivalent to, or epistemologically equivalent to the phrase “something physically exists”.

This is where the deception is. And once seen, it can’t be unseen. It is a coincidence of the English language. But coincidences can rarely be exchanged for reality.

@archicastor1, nice to have you on board!

Remember, you are surrounded here by people who have already concluded there is a God, and that God is described (more or less by the Bible). So proofs or disproofs of God aren’t too relevant to the dispute going on in our midst…


#4

Well said!

You show them the light of God, and when they seek this God of love, they will ask you about Him, or if they seek Him, He will meet them and reveal Himself to them.

Don’t seek the God of some book or religion, or someone’s thoughts or ideals. Seek the One who created you and reveals Himself to you through love and majesty’s of the universe.

We are instructed to ave an answer ready for those who ask. Not to think of the best argument or debate points to convince others. We are all wired differently. Some who seek will click with the ontological argument, some a more logical argument. If they seek Him, God can speak to them through your words, or some other means (if not en an act) and meet them where they are and what clicks with them.

But I wouldn’t go as far saying, never use an ontological argument. But I would say this is not the ultimate magic words that will convert everyone. It certainly wouldn’t work for me, us I know we all are wired differently. Arguments shouldn’t be used to prove the existence of God. They can be used to explain one of the many reasons why we believe in Him.

Jesus didn’t tell Zacchaeus to convert first and He will eat with him. He saw Zacchaeus seeking Him, and met him where he was at and had dinner with Him.

Though he clearly was attacking Christians (or attacking his personal version of God) in parts of the video, I think the point of the video was refuting the logic, which I agree it’s Him, that it isn’t very sound or doesn’t appeal to me.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #5

Forgive me for being unconvinced.

  1. He uses a variant of Gaunilo’s magical island. This argument may seem compelling when you first hear it, but an island/steak is still contingent, God is necessary.

  2. Big Bird/Scooby Doo/Batman/Darth Vader/Bilbo Baggins etc do not need to exist by definition. God, as a necessary being, does, so there is a false equivalence.

  3. This is probably the strongest point he makes. But is it really hard to deny that some properties do give an entity more freedom and abilities?

  4. There is no empirical evidence, but I still find the logic hard to argue with.


(Juan Romero) #6

A friend of mine wrote a rebuttal some time ago.


#7

I’d suggest to keep using the various Ontological arguments as a instructional primer to various modes of metaphysical philosophical analyses. I wouldn’t recommend using such arguments as though they actually settle questions about the existence of God(s).

There is an online resource, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, that can be a good resource for the background and explanations of various philosophical ideas. Here’s a page on Ontological Arguments.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #8

he tries to make a contingent thing necessary, even if I grant him that the steak has those properties, it wouldn’t be a steak anymore, it would be a necessary being, as a steak is contingent and the necessary being is not contingent.

This is a very good point. This reminds me of a facepalm worthy comment I once heard from the Amazing Atheist, where he suggested that the first cause could have been a cake, even as an atheist, I saw this objection as ignorant and naive. I may be pushing things here, but if a cake/steak has all the properties of God, how is it any different from God? God does not necessarily have to be a humanoid being.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #9

Karl Barth praised the Ontological Argument on the grounds that it gave us devotional knowledge of God. He didn’t even believe it was possible to know of the existence of God through human reasoning.

I however, do find the logic hard to argue with, so it works for me as an argument for the existence of God. It is actually probably one of the most convincing in my opinion, alongside the contingency argument, although maybe that’s because I’m a better philosopher than a scientist.


(Juan Romero) #10

I remember that one. He said something like “Why can’t the First Mover be a blueberry muffin?”

I was asking myself the same question.

Since God is spirit, He can take any form.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #11

Dawkins’ objection to the Cosmological Argument is also silly, where he claims that it makes the assumption that God is immune to the infinite regress. He doesn’t understand what Aquinas is arguing. He is arguing that there logically needs to be a necessary first cause in order to break the regress. I’m on the fence as to how correct Aquinas is, but Dawkins’ objection doesn’t work.


(Juan Romero) #12

It’s the same objection you will find on most YouTube comments.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #13

I take back my initial objection that the maximally great steak would effectively be God (it still works for the Cosmological argument). Whilst not wrong, it leads to a slippery slope where a whole pantheon of divine objects are real. A much better objection is that the steak cannot be necessary because it needs meat and heat in order to be a steak. God does not need anything else in order to be God.


(Juan Romero) #14

That’s correct.


(George Brooks) #15

@Reggie_O_Donoghue

The Ontological Argument is wrong because it is a trick of Indo-European linguistic structure … and no doubt of other languages as well.

The first ontological argument in the Western Christian tradition was proposed by Anselm of Canterbury in his 1078 work Proslogion. Anselm defined God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”…

The “trick” is found in the phrase “exists in understanding”. Because of the use of the word “exists” - - as applied to the phrases “in understanding” (or “in concept”, etc.) vs. “in reality” - - the naive reader thinks they are parallel meanings.

But “exists in understanding” is, in actuality, not the same as “exists”.

To “exist in understanding” or to “exist in concept” is a million miles away from the actuality of Existing.

The whole argument seems to have been designed to win bets in a bar, like the famous one where the better challenges the bettee (the sucker) if he is willing to bet that Samson’s hair was not cut by Dahlilah. He wants to wager $100! Better yet, he will pay you $200 if he is wrong, and you only have to pay $100 if he is right!

Well, certainly, we all remember the final episode between Samson and Dahlilah. She gets him drunk so he can learn his secret… and when she does, she cuts his hair, right?

Nope.

"18 When Delilah realized that he had told her his whole secret, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “This time come up, for he has told his whole secret to me.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands. 19 She let him fall asleep on her lap;
and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head."

So… you just lost $100… because Dahlilah was dangerous with a razor !

The Ontological Argument is a bar trick.


(Wookin Panub) #16

(1 PETER 3:15) " but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"

I don’t know how you think this dude destroyed the ontological argument, but, ok

I, myself, has never really liked the ontological argument. But on the surface, the ontological argument sounds ridiculous to both Atheists and Christians alike, but when you really study, you will see that it is a logically valid argument. The question ALWAYS remains, why God? Why do we keep coming up God?


(Juan Romero) #17

I left my friend’s rebuttal to Emperor Atheist up there.

When I heard about the OA for the first time, I began to think about something (it doesn’t matter what) that could be greater than God.


(George Brooks) #18

@Wookin_Panub,

The phrase “the concept of God exists” is not = Equal = to “God as a concept is almost as great as an actual God”.

“God as a concept” is
a Concept !

It is not a God of any kind or sort. So there is no valid comparison to any existing God.


(Wookin Panub) #19

My favorite ontological argument is, does God exist? Why not :slight_smile:


(George Brooks) #20

How is this an ontological argument?

If I ask, does Vibranium exist (an exotic element recently treated in the movie Black Panther), why not?

Have I made an ontological argument or a foolish one?