Thursday, August 21, 2008

Now for some real fun: Modal Argument

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Charles Hartshorne 1897-2000
Modern Champion of the modal argument


What follows is one of the most challenging subjects you will ever hear about. It is the best way to get a head ache, but I think it proves the existence of God. The problem is it requires a very specialized background to understand it. First you have to understand modal logic.

Modal Logic is so called because it turns upon the use of so called "modal operators." It's called "modal" because it is the logic of modes of being. "modes" as in what type of existnce something exits in, weather it is dependent upon other things, weather it can cease or fail to exist and so forth. The modal operators are "necessity," "contingency" "impossibly," "possibility."

Necessity and contingency lie at the base of our modern understanding of cause and effect. They come from scholastic notions of logic, but the distinction between the notion our modern notions of c/e and the shcoalstic ones in the middle ages is not that great. The scholastics had more levels of cause, efficient cause, final cause and several others. But one could everything we have done in modern science using the scholastic ideas of c/e.

Necessity doesn't mean has to exist. It doesn't mean God is necessary to the existence of the world (except in so far as if God exists then of closure God is necessary to the world as creator--without God there would be no world).The modal arguemnt does not begin with the assumption that God has to exist. It begins with the assumption that there is a valid distinction between necessity and contingency, which there must be.It proceeds along the lines of hypothetical consequence that obtain from different scenarios of God's existence. It concludes that is necessary. But by "necessary" it means not contingent, or not dependent upon something else for its' existence.

This is often misconstrued by atheists and taken to mean the argument proceeds from God's existence as an assumed first premise. This is not the case, the first premise is either/or. Either God's existence is necessary or it is impossible. This allows for the possibility that there is no God. So the argument does not begin by "defining God into existence."

Necessity means either non dependent or cannot cease or fail. By "fail" I mean there could not not be a God. That is the conclusion of the argument, not the premise.

Contingent means the opposite: that a thing is dependent upon a prior thing for existence, or that it could cease or fail to exist.

Impossible means logically impossible, something in the structure of the idea contradictions, such as square circles.

one of the sore spots that atheists get stuck on is the idea that God cannot be contingent. They will always leap to the conclusion that this is defining God into existence, because they don't understand the concept of God. God, by the nature of the concept, carriers certain parameters just as the existence of any human assumes humanity, or the existence of any tree assumes that the tree in question is a plant. To have to define that God is not contingent should not even come into it. The idea of God is that of eternal creator of all things. Thus God cannot cease to exits and cannot be dependent upon anything (or he wouldn't be the creator of all things). Atheists usually assume that all knowledge has to be empirical. they will argue this is defining God into existence. maybe God is contingent.

Maybe there is a begin like the one we talk about but he's not eternal or the creator of all things, but that means he's not the God we are talking about.



Hartshorne's version goes like this:

1) God can be analytically conceived without contradiction.
2) Therefore God is not impossible.
3) By definition God cannot be contingent.
4) Therefore God is either necessary or impossible.
5) God is not impossible (from 2) therefore, God is necessary.
6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist.



Argument:my version

1) God can be analytically conceived, as eternal necessary being, without contradiction.

2) Therefore God is not impossible,(because no contradiction).

3) By definition God cannot be contingent (becasue God is eteral).

4) Therefore if God exists, God's existence is necessary, if God does not exist, it is because God is impossible.

5) God is not impossible (from 2) therefore, God is necessary.

6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist.


A. The logic of the argument:

This argument is analytical, it proceeds from the basis in logic to argue that the concept of God is such that if we understood the meaning of the terms we would have to conclude that God must exist. Naturally that is a very controversial position. Many Christians and other theists reject the ontological argument on the grounds knowledge must be somewhat empirical. Nevertheless the argument has been used for a long time, and despite its many apparent deaths, it keeps returning in one form or another. Perhaps the best book on the subject is The Many Faced Argument by John Hick. Somehow the ontological argument just wont die. I feel that this is not so much because the argument itself is true as a proof, but because it gets at something deeper than proof, something to do with the way to think about God, and it strikes a deep cord in our consciousness, even though as a proof it may fail. For this reason alone it is important to know, if only to know the concept itself.

1) God can be analytically conceived without contradiction.
2) Therefore God is not impossible.
3) By definition God cannot be contingent.
4) Therefore God is either necessary or impossible.
5) God is not impossible (from 2) therefore, God is necessary.
6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist.

(This is actually my re-statement of what Hartshorne is saying).

Hartshorne's actual modal logic looks like this:

The OA: an assessment:

by Ed Stoebenau

http://www.eskimo.net/~cwj2/atheism/onto.html Hartshorne's ontological argument is based on Anselm's second argument and claims that God's existence is logically necessary. Hartshorne's argument is given here, where "N(A)" means "it is logically necessary that A," "~A" means "it is not the case that A," "-->" is strict implication, "v" means "or," and "g" means "God exists":

g --> N(g)
N(g) v ~N(g)
~N(g) --> N(~N(g))
N(g) v N(~N(g))
N(~N(g)) --> N(~g)
N(g) v N(~g)
~N(~g)
N(g)
N(g) --> g
g



This argument is valid. Furthermore, given an Anselmian conception of God, premises one and five are sound. Premise two is just the law of the excluded middle, and premise three is a law of the modal logic S5. Premise nine is obviously sound, so this leaves premise seven as the only premise to question. Premise seven says that it is logically possible that God exists.



Yes, those funny lines, "g-->N(g)" are the argument, those are the formal symbols used in modal logic.

B. God's Possibility vs. Impossibility.

The argument turns on the distinction between necessity and contingency, and upon the distinction between mere possibility and the nature of necessary being as not mere possible. In other words, God is either necessary or impossible. If God exists than he is ontologically necessary, because he is logically necessary by definition. But if he does not exist than it is ontologically impossible that he exists, or could come to exist. This is because God cannot be contingent, by definition. A contingency is just not God. So if God is possible, he can't be "merely possible" and thus is not impossible, which means he must be necessary.

God is conceivable in analytic terms without contradiction:
The universe without God is not concievable in analytical terms; it is dependent upon principles which are themselves contingent. Nothing can come from a possibility of total nothingness; the existenceo of singularities and density of matter depend upon empiracal observations and extrapolation form it. By definition these things are not analytical and do depend upon causes higher up the chain than their being (note that the skeptic at this point probably denies the validity of analytic proofs but to reverse the arguement must accept such proof).

Since the concept is coherent nad not contradictory and is derived from analytic terms, to reverse the argument the atheist must show that God is impossible since the burden of proof is now on the one arguing that a contingent state of affirs could produce a universe in which being has to be.

D. Answering Objections:

1) The argument can be reversed

Atheists have tried to reverse the argument merely by saying:

1) either God exists or he doesn't
2) God is either necessary or impossilbe. Necessary if he eixists, impossible if he does not
3) God is impossible
4) Therefore God does not exist.

But of course this is merely stipulation. They assume that what the argument is doing is just stipulating everything that has been said about God, but on the "Modes of Being" page I show that each of these modalities of existence are logical deductions.Either a thing exists or it does not. One can equivocate about the meaning the term "existence," but here I clearly mean concete actual existence in the "real" world. If a thing does not exist it is either that it could, but just doesn't happen to exist, or that it cannot exist because it is a conceptual contradiction, such as square circles, or round triangles and so on. Therefore, if it does exist, it is either that it exists contingently or that it is not contingent but exists necessaryily (that is it could not fail to exist without contradiction). These are the four most basic modes of being and cannot be denied. They could be subdivded, for example fictional contingency, such as Sueprman or Dick Tracy, that which would be contingent if it had real concete actuality, but is merely a fictional concept. But the four modes are the basic logical deductions about the nature of existence.

The idea that the argument can be reversed just by switching the lines and declairing God impossible merely begs the question. Is God really impossible just because we can utter those words? Is God logically necessary just because we can utter those words?. No, but that's not what is being said. God is logically necessary as a concept. That is the nature of the God-concept, that's the idea of God. To deny that would be like saying "how do you know that tables are things to put things on?" Or "how do you know that triagles have three sides?"The question is one of actuality, so if it is possible that God exists than God is ontologically necessary and thus has real concete existence because since God is not contingent it cannot be that God is "merely possible." If it is at all possible that God exists, than it's not impossible. To show that the argument can truely be reversed the atheist must show why God is impossible, and to do that he/she must show that God cannot be understood analytically without contradiction.


Another attempt at reversing the argument, which is always used on message boards when I make this argument: just to put not in front of each line. "It is possible that god does not exist." The premise is they don't have to prove God is ipossible, but just that the possiblity of God's not existing reverses the argment.

The problem is, the premise is false. If god is not analytically impossible (contradictory) then God must exist. Thus it is not ture that it is possible that God does not exist. The logic works like this:


(1) If God is indeep possible, the God cannot be impossible.

(2) to say God is not possible is the same as saying god is impossible.

(3) if something is possible, it can't be impossible.

(4) you must show why God is impossible.

(5) I have showen why God is possible, becasue God is concievable without contradiction.

(6) anticipating answer on eneity and consciousness, consciousness is not a primary quality of God. Other things are conscoiuss, that is not something quiquely estabishes God as God, logical necessity is such a thing.

(7) If God is possible, and can't be impossible, and can't be contingent, then to be possible for God is to be logically necessary. Thus it does not work to say God is not possible because it isn't true, thus it's a false premise.



To make good on any reversal they must show a contraidction in the concept of God. To this they always retort "well you can't prove that God is not contradictory." But I don't have to prove that. One can assume that if there is no contraiction it is not contradictory. They are the one's seeking to make the reversal, so it's their burden of proof. But to prove that God is possible all one need do is concive god analytically without contradiction. what else could one do to prove a possiblity?


2) The assumption that we are merely loading the concept with terms that make it necessary, or that the deftion of God as necessary is arbitrary.

This is really the same arguement one must make to reverse the argument of necessary being. This is what atheists always argue. The first thing they say bout it is that we are just arbitrarily sticking on the term "necessary" and playing word games. Some go so far as to try and demonstrate this by sticking the term necessary on other things, such as "purple cow" or anything they think of, and that's suppossed to show what we are doing. I regard this move as nothing more than a demonstration that they do not understand the concepts The necessity of necessity and why it must be applied to God is demonstrated on the "modes of being" page. Moreover, this move is nothing more than the perfect Island argument. It can't wrok becaus it merely enthrones contingencies. Our reason for saying that God is necessary is much more logical and organic and is much more than a mere word game.

While it is true that God as being itself is a pre-given postulate and is idependent of proof because it is part of the defintion of God, the realization that being has t be means that this must be the case.

3) The assumption that we are lending existence to a fictional being.

This is merely an assumption. The necessary existence of God is implied in the possibility of God's existence and the realization that the the only alternative is impossibility. God is possible and thus necessary. Some have tried to argue that they are breaking up the four categories with a 5th not seen, that of "fictional" but that applies to the category 4 that of non-existing contingency.

4) Equivocating between types of necessity.

The argument says that to say God is necessary as a postulate of defintion is speaking of ontological necessity, than to assert the actuality of it is moving from logical to ontolgocial necessiy.

To say that a thing is logically possible is to say that it might have existed in the past or may exist in the future. But for God to exist he must always have existed; in the past, in the future, or all time. Given logical necessity the logical possibility of God 's non existance is impossible. Therefore, ontoloigcal necessity implies logical necessity. One implies the other and it is a rational move from one to the other.



This argument may seem like merely a trick of words, and modal logic may be conroverial, but it turns on very basic logic, such as modus tolens or modus ponens which is accepted by all logicians. On Argument 1 I document Antony Flew saying that the logoical categories of "Necessary" and "contingent" truth are accepted by all logicians.

TrentDougherty
Concise intero to the Modal Ontological Arugument for The Existence of God.

http://www.abarnett.demon.co.uk/atheism/ontol.html

TERMS

‘Modal’ – Pertaining to the modes of existence (de re) or of propositions (de dicto) as necessary or possible. ‘Necessity’ is a mode of being for a thing or proposition as is ‘Possibility’.
‘Ontological’ – from Greek ontoV for being.
‘Argument’ – designed to logically support a proposition (not to be confused with persuasion which is a psycho-social phenomenon, not a philosophical one).
Throughout this description I shall use standard notation and notation used when the font is restricted to a single typeset as in a text only document for HTTP purposes on the Internet.

The modalities are symbolized as follows:
A square or in typeset [] preceding an expression means “It is necessary that…” or “It is necessarily the case that…” or simply “Necessarily…” e.g. as applied to a propositional function.

Ps/[]Ps – “It is necessarily the case that s is P” where s is a constant referring to some individual and P is a predicate.
A Diamond à or in typeset <> preceding an expression means “It is possibly the case that…” or “It is possible that…” or simply “Possibly…”

SEMANTICS

Possibility is defined as consistency. àPs/<>Ps reads as “Possibly, s is P” and means that there is no contradiction in attributing P to s. Necessity is defined as “not possibly not the case”. If something cannot not be, then it must be.

Psº~à~Ps or []Ps=~<>~Ps
THE CALCULUS

There are many different ways to axiomatize a logic, just as there are different ways to axiomatize geometry. Axioms in some systems will be theorems in others, but since axioms and theorems have the same validity it is only a matter of formal difference. One of the most used systems of modal logic is called S5. There is an interesting theorem in S5 called Brouer’s Theorem.
(PàP)à(àPàP) or (P-->[]P)-->(<>P-->P)
This theorem is derivable in weaker systems as well.
The modal ontological argument for the existence of God is just a substitution instance for this theorem. There are only two propositions needed.
THE PROPOSITIONS

First comes the definition of God as a being who, IF he exists, does so necessarily, i.e. a Necessary Being. This is only the definition of what God would be like IF he existed. The proposition is formalized as
GàG or G-->[]G
“If God exists, then he necessarily exists.”
The other proposition is the assertion that it is possible that God exists.
àG or <>G
“Possibly, God exists.”
RULES OF INFERENCE

The only rule of inference needed is Modus Ponens.
PàQ “If P, then Q”
P
Therefore Q
Now we are ready to put the argument together.

THE ARGUMENT
1. (GàG)à(àGàG)
2. GàG
3. àG
4. àGàG
5. G
(Theorem, sub G for P)
(Def of God)
(premise)
(1, 2 MP)
(4, 3 MP)

or
1. (G-->[]G)-->(<>G-->G) (Theorem, sub G for P)
2. G-->[]G (Def of God)
3. <>G (premise)
4. <>G-->G (1, 2 MP)
5. G (4, 3 MP)

COMMENTARY

It is quite a simple argument which makes it hard to understand its fullness. The simple is packed with meaning. As you can see, there is one and only one premise, that it is possible that God exists. If this be granted, then his necessary existence follows. Since all efforts to show that the concept of God is contradictory have failed heretofore I conclude, somewhat reluctantly, that God exists. Kai Neilson tried to argue this in his debate with J.P. Moreland, but didn’t make much progress.

Now I realize that to the average person, this seems like a trick, but the average person is not particularly accustomed to following logical arguments at all, much less highly specialized forms of logical calculi developed by professional philosophers. Most professors at the University level don’t even know modal logic and many have never studied it and some have never heard of it. What do those who know it, but don’t believe in God say? They say that the concept of God is incoherent. I have not yet seen an even slightly plausible argument to that effect. Until I do, the OA will be cogent to me. I might add that I am a convert on this argument. I argued for years that the ontological argument was flawed until someone showed me the modal version. I have always followed Reason wherever it lead and, as usual, it lead to God.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adams, Robert M., _The Virtue of Faith_, esp. “The Logical Structure of Anselm’s Arguments,” Oxford University Press: 1987.
Moris, Thomas V, _Anselmian Explorations_, esp. “Necessary Beings,” University of Notre Dame Press: 1987.
Plantinga, Alvin, _The Nature of Necessity_, esp. “God and Necessity,” Oxford University Press: 1974, 1992.
Plantinga, Alvin, _The Ontological Argument_, Anchor Books, 1965.
Swinburne, Richard, _The Coherence of Theism_, Oxford University Press: 1977, 1993.



Oddly enough that quotation is linked to a site by an atheist named Adrian Barnett who is attacking my older version of this argument, but he was gracious enough to put this quotation, which I think works against his argument, by a philospher in the UK.


About Hartshorne


Hartshorne Lived to be 103, at the time of his death in the Fall of 2000, he was known as "the greatest living Metaphysician." Hartshorne was one of the major forces in the "back to God" movment in Philosophy (a term coined by Christianity Today in a 1979 article. His first and greatest calim to fame is as the second most influential voice in process philosophy, along with Alfred North Whtiehead, but he is also credited as the man who brought the Ontologcial argument back from ignorminious defeat by Kant almost two centuries earlier. Hartshorne was also a recognized authority on birdsong, and an authority on bycicles, having never driven a car a single time in his centogenerian lifespan. Hartshorne devoted the last years of life to waging a letter's to the editor campgaign to advocate social issues such as medical care.

14 comments:

LuckyCurse said...

1) God can be analytically conceived without contradiction.

Unfortunately, I find that the argument falls apart from the first point. If we can imagine it, without flaws, and we can conceive of an answer to any opposition, then...

2) Therefore God is not impossible.

This is only an argument for the perfection of the human imagination, from which all of the divine sprung once we developed the proper brain size through evolutionary processes. We found our place among the animal kingdom through an enlarged cranium, which allowed us to survive without the proper teeth, musculature, and natural defenses which other animals have. The unfortunate side-effect of this is the ability to imagine the impossible, devise fantasy, and build tools that could some day end civilization.
I just do not believe that because we can imagine it 'perfectly', it must be possible.
What I settle for (for now, and most likely throughout my lifetime), is a big question mark and a "I Don't Know", when it comes to the origin of the matter of the universe. I do not assume creator. I do not assume intelligence behind the universe. I assume nothing. To do so is beyond our abilities and comprehension at this time. I could go into speculation and invention -- I have the imagination to do so.
- LC

J.L. Hinman said...

LC says:

1) God can be analytically conceived without contradiction.

Unfortunately, I find that the argument falls apart from the first point. If we can imagine it, without flaws, and we can conceive of an answer to any opposition, then...


then what? It has no contradiction. what's the problem? It's your burden as the skeptic to show the contradiction.

2) Therefore God is not impossible.

This is only an argument for the perfection of the human imagination, from which all of the divine sprung once we developed the proper brain size through evolutionary processes.


No, you gotta follow the lines. No one is saying becasue I can conceive of god without a contradiction that prove he must exist. the one and only point derived from that observation is that God is not impossible. Now become crucial in the overall argument. But the idea is not to win the whole thing right in this point. The idea is to build an answer. this is part of the construction.



We found our place among the animal kingdom through an enlarged cranium, which allowed us to survive without the proper teeth, musculature, and natural defenses which other animals have. The unfortunate side-effect of this is the ability to imagine the impossible, devise fantasy, and build tools that could some day end civilization.


why do you call it impossible? you have no empirical evidence against God. You can't show a contradiction so what's impossible about it?

don't even think about the brain/mind thing. there is no empirical evidence to show that only biological organisms exist nd that argument only applies to biological organisms.



I just do not believe that because we can imagine it 'perfectly', it must be possible.

that is not the argument. you are not willing to follow the argument!



What I settle for (for now, and most likely throughout my lifetime), is a big question mark and a "I Don't Know", when it comes to the origin of the matter of the universe. I do not assume creator.


I have an even better argument that will blow them all away. I have a cumulative case based upon the RE studies and the analytical (Modal) arguments. But we have to start somewhere.




I do not assume intelligence behind the universe. I assume nothing. To do so is beyond our abilities and comprehension at this time. I could go into speculation and invention -- I have the imagination to do so.
- LC


this argument does not assume anything--accept the reality of modal logic. You are doing more than not assuming, you are ruling it out for no reason.

J.L. Hinman said...

I think a lot of people don't understand that these points are cumulative. that is 2 flows out of 1 and 3 out of 1 and 2. so it's like if 1 and 2 are true then 3 is true and so on.

So the first point is not saying "I can imagine God therefore he must exist."

LuckyCurse said...

I would like to first start by thanking you for causing me study this method of argument further. By doing so I have broadened my understanding of one such method. As a fan of rhetoric, and a constant student of it, I enjoy learning such things.

First, I would like to clarify one misunderstanding. You said:
why do you call it impossible? you have no empirical evidence against God. You can't show a contradiction so what's impossible about it?

I was speaking in a broader sense, not against the idea of a god. We have the ability to imagine the impossible. No matter how grand or insignificant, or strange, we can imagine it. I was not speaking of God(s) in particular, merely our common abilities of the mind. And yes, you are correct about empirical evidence against God. If I am correct, then there is no such thing as evidence against God(s). Again, the common argument, which you are aware of: You cannot disprove a negative. Once something is imagined and expressed, it is nearly impossible to disprove its existence, especially when displaced by a significant amount of time and degradation of evidence.


then what? It has no contradiction. what's the problem? It's your burden as the skeptic to show the contradiction.
The problem arises with a confusion of 'ontological' and 'epistemic' possibilities. Yes, Epistemically speaking, there is every possibility that a god or gods exist. For all we know. Ontologically speaking, we are not born with the knowledge(I argue we are born Atheists), it is beyond natural or technological means to discover, and as the supernatural it violates the natural laws that we know (by its definition alone).
Is it not therefore the burden of the one making the assertion that the fantastical is ontological, not the skeptic doubting it as epistemic and possibly dismissible?
So, when we state:
2) Therefore God is not impossible.
Arguably, we can attach the words "As far as we know" to the end of the phrase.
2) Therefore God is not impossible -- as far as we know.
[in an inoffensive way we could replace God with Santa Claus or the Anthropomorphic form of Death and have just as much difficulty disproving this logic]

This seems soft, and an important part of the origin from which all other points spring from. I understand that they all come together to form a case, but it seems that case is not built on solid ground. Being conceived, possible, non-contingent, and necessary, what happens when any of these points fail?

Now, I do understand that the argument could be that perceived miracles, RE and such move the idea of God from Epistemic to Ontological. "People have witnessed such, and therefore it is proven." And with that, the argument goes in an entirely different direction based on evidence of such and whether or not it can be trusted, etc etc.

This is truly a difficult subject, because each point devolves into hundreds of other points, each requiring full explanation in order to boost the former. Most likely all points lead back to the former at some point.

So, that is what I have learned by reading 25+ articles from jstor, websites, and the like. I am not an amateur in the arena of thought, yet an amateur at Modal Logic. I look forward to learning more as I continue to research it.

Also, I have been very rude in the past and would like to apologize for my behavior. I'm not looking for opponents, but to build on knowledge.
- LC (Matt)

J.L. Hinman said...

Anonymous LuckyCurse said...

I would like to first start by thanking you for causing me study this method of argument further. By doing so I have broadened my understanding of one such method.

cool. thanks for saying that!


As a fan of rhetoric, and a constant student of it, I enjoy learning such things.

you are a rhetoric fan! great. did you see my post on Chiam Perelman (tehe "new" rhetoric)? I was a communications major and my focus was rhetoric, especially Perelman and Tulmann.

First, I would like to clarify one misunderstanding. You said:
why do you call it impossible? you have no empirical evidence against God. You can't show a contradiction so what's impossible about it?

It's not an empirical matter. It's a deductive argument. The proposition is that God would be impossible if the concept of God contained a contradiction. Obviously my argument is saying God is NOT impossible because there is no contradiction. That's how we eliminate the only other possibly aside from necessity.

the point of the argument, God can't be contingent, God is not impossible, the only thing left is necessary, which means he must exist.




I was speaking in a broader sense, not against the idea of a god. We have the ability to imagine the impossible. No matter how grand or insignificant, or strange, we can imagine it. I was not speaking of God(s) in particular, merely our common abilities of the mind. And yes, you are correct about empirical evidence against God. If I am correct, then there is no such thing as evidence against God(s).

right


Again, the common argument, which you are aware of: You cannot disprove a negative. Once something is imagined and expressed, it is nearly impossible to disprove its existence, especially when displaced by a significant amount of time and degradation of evidence.


well since we dealing entirely in the realm of the deductive, not the empirical, the point is that with no contradiction in the concept of God, there is impossibly. Since God can't be a maybe, because He can't be contingent, then he has to be either a yes or no. He is not a no since there's no contradiction, so he must be yes,he exists.


what I said last time"then what? It has no contradiction. what's the problem? It's your burden as the skeptic to show the contradiction."


The problem arises with a confusion of 'ontological' and 'epistemic' possibilities. Yes, Epistemically speaking, there is every possibility that a god or gods exist. For all we know. Ontologically speaking, we are not born with the knowledge(I argue we are born Atheists), it is beyond natural or technological means to discover, and as the supernatural it violates the natural laws that we know (by its definition alone).


God can't be a mere possibility becasue possibilities are only possible if they contingent.

God can't be contingent (how could the basis of all things be contingent? what would he be contingent upon? He couldn't be the basis of all tings).So he can't be a mere possibility, he has to be either necessary or impossible.




Is it not therefore the burden of the one making the assertion that the fantastical is ontological, not the skeptic doubting it as epistemic and possibly dismissible?


burden of proof shifts when a prmia facie argument is presented.


So, when we state:
2) Therefore God is not impossible.
Arguably, we can attach the words "As far as we know" to the end of the phrase.

No, because we are not dealing in experiments here. IT's not empirical. its deductive. If there is no contradiction there is no deduce able impossibility.

here is where the burden of proof shifts. The skeptic has to show that God is impossible or the arguemnt is over. Those are the only two possibilities because we wiped out contingency. So if you can't show that then we have to assume God is necessary.



2) Therefore God is not impossible -- as far as we know.
[in an inoffensive way we could replace God with Santa Claus or the Anthropomorphic form of Death and have just as much difficulty disproving this logic]


but you are just changing the name. An eternal necessary first cause and is greater than that which can be conceived, called "stana clause" is still God.

that goes back to the middle ages and one of the oldest attacks on the Ontological argument; called teh "perfect island." It was advanced by a guy called Gunillo who had a piece called "in defense of the fool." Atheists bring that up all the time."you can use this argument prove a perfect, island, perfect tomato a purple cow, pink unicorn or whatever" the answer is always, it would have to be pink unicorn with the qualities of God desribed. so you are just changing the name used.


This seems soft, and an important part of the origin from which all other points spring from. I understand that they all come together to form a case, but it seems that case is not built on solid ground. Being conceived, possible, non-contingent, and necessary, what happens when any of these points fail?


hy would they fail? Modern science has condiioned us to thin of emprical results as the only vaild form of evdience. In reality empriical data doesn't prove anything becasue without deduction you can't analyze it or interprit it. Nothing is stronger than deduction.

why do we not find square circles? Because they are an absolute contradiction deductively.

do you think we need to comb the galaxies to find out if there are no square circles? It's a true analytical contradiction its as sold as anything can hope to be. So it must be with a true analytically valid and sound argument.

now it' the skeptic's burden tos how that the argument is ot sound. It is valid, it's logically valid that means it fits the form of deductive logic that it has to fit to be true. now the question is is it sound, meaning is it actually true. But we have every reason to think it is, so its' your burden to show it's not.


Now, I do understand that the argument could be that perceived miracles, RE and such move the idea of God from Epistemic to Ontological. "People have witnessed such, and therefore it is proven." And with that, the argument goes in an entirely different direction based on evidence of such and whether or not it can be trusted, etc etc.

This is truly a difficult subject, because each point devolves into hundreds of other points, each requiring full explanation in order to boost the former. Most likely all points lead back to the former at some point.

So, that is what I have learned by reading 25+ articles from jstor, websites, and the like. I am not an amateur in the arena of thought, yet an amateur at Modal Logic. I look forward to learning more as I continue to research it.

Also, I have been very rude in the past and would like to apologize for my behavior. I'm not looking for opponents, but to build on knowledge.
- LC (Matt)

J.L. Hinman said...

Now, I do understand that the argument could be that perceived miracles, RE and such move the idea of God from Epistemic to Ontological. "People have witnessed such, and therefore it is proven." And with that, the argument goes in an entirely different direction based on evidence of such and whether or not it can be trusted, etc etc.

empiricism never proves anything. It only gives us a probabilistic reason to assume things.

This is truly a difficult subject, because each point devolves into hundreds of other points, each requiring full explanation in order to boost the former. Most likely all points lead back to the former at some point.

that is surely true. so it is with all matters of the intellect.

So, that is what I have learned by reading 25+ articles from jstor, websites, and the like. I am not an amateur in the arena of thought, yet an amateur at Modal Logic. I look forward to learning more as I continue to research it.


I appreciate your input

Also, I have been very rude in the past and would like to apologize for my behavior. I'm not looking for opponents, but to build on knowledge.
- LC (Matt)


Hey no one has more reason to apologize for being rude than I. think nothing of it man.

Loren said...

If "contingent" and "necessary" have to be explained like that, then they are bad terms -- more appropriate ones would be "dependent" and "independent".

Furthermore, your later arguments in your entry seem to draw on the more usual meaning of "necessary" as "has to exist", something which you had earlier denied in this context.

And I've yet to see a theorem that demonstrates that an independent entity has to exist.

Also, unless you can show that the God you propose exists out of logical necessity (like 2 + 2 = 4), you are essentially defining that entity into existence. And if I define the Invisible Pink Unicorn, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Bertrand Russell's interplanetary teapot as existing by logical necessity, do they therefore exist?

J.L. Hinman said...

If "contingent" and "necessary" have to be explained like that, then they are bad terms -- more appropriate ones would be "dependent" and "independent".

sorry I think that's a silly comment. It's philosophy, it's for people with specialized training. You can't on the one hand claim that Christians are stupid and they don't' think they when they do think they think too much and its over your head. that's unfair.

Furthermore, your later arguments in your entry seem to draw on the more usual meaning of "necessary" as "has to exist", something which you had earlier denied in this context.


Nope. it turns on this: Cannot cease, cannot fail, and is not contingent. by not fail it means not that the world couldn't exist without it (which is true if and only if God is real but you can't argue form that because it would be circular) but cannot fail in the sense that since it isn't contingent its not something that might not have been.

And I've yet to see a theorem that demonstrates that an independent entity has to exist.

what do you mean by "independent?" no one used that term. If by that you mean being which is not continent upon some prior cause, this is it. This is the theorem.




Also, unless you can show that the God you propose exists out of logical necessity (like 2 + 2 = 4), you are essentially defining that entity into existence.


I just did. God is not contingent, not impossible the only thing left is necessary.

One thing that might be confusing you is that you are assuming God is an individual being like use. I am saying God is being itself, the basis of all being, the ground of being. That means God is not just something that might or might not be. If no God than no anything because God is the basis of all being.



And if I define the Invisible Pink Unicorn, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Bertrand Russell's interplanetary teapot as existing by logical necessity, do they therefore exist?

Didn't I already point this out? Thisi s just another version of Gunilo's perfect island argument. The problem is you are just chaning the word for God. you are saying if by this logic I can prove there must be x,y,z (perfect island, perfect tomato, purple, cow, pink unicron, ect ect) But to do that you have to show that they are eteranl, necessary, not contignent, and so forth. IN other words they have to have the same qualities as God; but since only God can have thsoe qualites (you can't have two grounds of being they cancel each other out) then whatever has those qualities has to be God

so that means you just changing the names. You are just saying "if this logic is true then we can call God pink unicorn." In the words my a friend on CARM many years ago (Mr. Bond) "I don't' care if you call him birdie birdie nam nam...he's still God!"

Kristen said...

I really appreciate your taking the time to explain this, Metacrock. I remember we had a brief discussion about it on your old forum when I first joined, and I didn't understand it. Your explanation now makes sense to me, but I'd like to reiterate to you what I understood you to be saying, to be sure I did in fact understand.

What you appear to me to be saying is that a non-contingent Something (something "necessary") has to exist. That necessary Thing, you call God. Nothing has been said about the nature of "God" except that God is necessary; ie, non-contingent, and not impossible. By inference, then, God would be eternal, and the Cause of all the contingent Things.

It seems to me the atheists are getting hung up at this point in thinking that you have done some sort of sleight-of-hand and inserted here a Christian conception of a God (ie, a Conscious Mind). You have not done so-- that is another argument. But the idea that Something "necessary" (in terms of modes) has to exist, isn't really giving up as much ground as they might think.

That non-contingent Something would be the same as what has been called the "First Cause."

Am I following you?

Kristen said...

The only thing I don't think I'm clear on is this--

"6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist."

What is Becker's modal theorem, and why does it mean the "necessary" must "necessarily exist"?

J.L. Hinman said...

The only thing I don't think I'm clear on is this--

"6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist."

What is Becker's modal theorem, and why does it mean the "necessary" must "necessarily exist"?

Becker's postulate holds that modal status (except for actuality) is always necessary.

except for actuality because actualities are usually contingent. modal status would be necessity or impossible. Impossible is the negative side of necessity. In other words impossibilities are necessary, they are not maybe's they are not contingencies.

I'm not sure if I should use that Becker thing. I can't remember everything I used to know about it. I have refresh my memory. I was real big on this stuff back in 99-2000. It's been a long time since went over it.

J.L. Hinman said...

I really appreciate your taking the time to explain this, Metacrock. I remember we had a brief discussion about it on your old forum when I first joined, and I didn't understand it. Your explanation now makes sense to me, but I'd like to reiterate to you what I understood you to be saying, to be sure I did in fact understand.

What you appear to me to be saying is that a non-contingent Something (something "necessary") has to exist. That necessary Thing, you call God. Nothing has been said about the nature of "God" except that God is necessary; ie, non-contingent, and not impossible. By inference, then, God would be eternal, and the Cause of all the contingent Things.

It seems to me the atheists are getting hung up at this point in thinking that you have done some sort of sleight-of-hand and inserted here a Christian conception of a God (ie, a Conscious Mind). You have not done so-- that is another argument. But the idea that Something "necessary" (in terms of modes) has to exist, isn't really giving up as much ground as they might think.

That non-contingent Something would be the same as what has been called the "First Cause."

Am I following you?


by Geroge I think she's got it!

the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain! Because it's contingent!

Rayndeon said...

@OP:

Hartshorne's modal argument, which is an S5 formalization of Norman Malcolm's original reinterpretation of Proslogion II, is clearly deficient. Plantinga's argument is superior although it too fails, as I note in detail at my blog.

We see this clearly at which Hartshorne (and by extension, Malcolm) argue that since God cannot be produced or cease to exist, He cannot be a contingent being. This is clearly fallacious. The fact that God cannot be caused to exist or be destroyed does not mean that He is modally necessary - all that entails is that all possible worlds at which God exists, He is neither produced nor destroyed hence the proposition "God exists" is true for all times t and at worlds at which God does not exist, He is not produced, hence the proposition "God exists" is false for all times t. It does not entail that God is logically/metaphysically necessary. It just means that if we have some possible world segment S that includes God, then any possible complement S* will likewise include God - and vice versa that if there is a possible world segment S' that precludes God, then any possible complement S'* will preclude God. It does not, of course, mean that either S or S' is necessary. The argument does not derive its specious plausibilty from God simpliciter, but purely from the property of eternity. An eternal universe or an eternal unicorn likewise cannot be produced or destroyed and both are possible - hence, both are necessary. This commits the same fallacy as the above. Hartshorne and Malcolm made the mistake of thinking that if God exists at a world, then He exists in all of them and if God fails to exist at a world, He fails to exist in all of them. This is clearly fallacious since what obtains is that if God fails to exist at a world, then He fails to exist (obviously enough!) at worlds at which He fails to exist and vice versa. Or more substantially, as I said above, the argument is committed to that [](S v S') which clearly is unargued for.

There are worthwhile ontological arguments out there, among them, Plantinga and Robert Maydole's. This ain't one of them.

J.L. Hinman said...

sorry, I think you miss some major arguments. I will answer in the blog as an article.