Saturday, February 06, 2016

Come Debate me atheists: Modal argumemt existence of God


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1) If God exists, he must exist necessarily, if God does not exist his existence is impossible.

(2) Therefore, God is either necessary or impossible.

(3) God can be conceived without contradiction

(4) therefore, God is not impossible

(5) Since God is not impossible he must be necessary.

(6) Since god is necessary he must exist.


The assumption that God cannot be contingent is implicit in the concept of God itself.Therefore God cannot exist contingently.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

(1) Either it is necessary that God exists or it is impossible that God exists. (premise; a paraphrase of line 2 of your argument)
(2) It is possible that God does not exist. (premise)
(3) It is not necessary that God exists. (from 2)
(4) It is impossible that God exists. (from 1 and 3)
(5) God does not exist. (from 4)

QED.

Eric Sotnak said...

As it stands, premise 1 of the argument in the main post is multiply ambiguous. Is it intended as a conjunction or a disjunction? Does “necessarily” modify “exists” or “God exists”?

Rudy said...

Not sure how being "conceivable" proves "impossible", as "conceivable" covers a wide range of things; i.e. polytheism is conceivable, Shinto spirits residing in trees are conceivable, etc.
(So that your argument seems to show way more than you want it to.) I feel as there is a lot in the "God is impossible..." alternative that I'm missing though.

Joe Hinman said...

Hey this great, 3 takers I appreciate that. Reversing their argument is an old idea but not necessarily a bad one. I don't think it works, however, and way back in 1999 when I first put up my Modal argument on Doxa this was the answer I gave to reversing:


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 conceivable in analytical terms; it is dependent upon principles which are themselves contingent. Nothing can come from a possibility of total nothingness; the existence of singularities and density of matter depend upon empirical 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 argument must accept such proof).

Since the concept is coherent and 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 affairs could produce a universe in which being has to be.

Joe Hinman said...

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 impossible. 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 concrete 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 necessarily (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 subdivided, for example fictional contingency, such as Superman or Dick Tracy, that which would be contingent if it had real concrete 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 declaring 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 triangles 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 truly 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.

the only difference in the argument you make and the one I preempted is that you add:(3) It is not necessary that God exists. (from 2) and from that you derive
(4) It is impossible that God exists. (from 1 and 3). I think the answer I agve still goes. But I would add you can't just assert that God is not necessary. Necessary doesn't mean that God must exist with no alternative because the argument itself gives an alternative that God be impossible. what God can't be is merely possible because that would mean he's a maybe. God can't be a maybe. Either God must be or must not be. The argument turns on the idea that the skeptic can't show a reason to think God impossible.

Joe Hinman said...

Delete
Blogger Eric Sotnak said...
"As it stands, premise 1 of the argument in the main post is multiply ambiguous. Is it intended as a conjunction or a disjunction? Does “necessarily” modify “exists” or “God exists”?

(1) If God exists, he must exist necessarily, if God does not exist his existence is impossible. Not ambiguous if you know the literature. I probably should make it more transparent to those who do not but that's an occupational hazard--getting so lost in study you forget no one knows hat you forget no one knows what you are talking about

It means God is necessary and not contingent as a given in the concept of God. That means God can't be only possible but must be either necessary or impossible. Necessary means non contingent with respect to his mode of being but it serves as a synonym for existing. So that may be a weakness is tye expression of trhe notion.

Joe Hinman said...


Blogger Rudy said...

"Not sure how being "conceivable" proves "impossible", as "conceivable" covers a wide range of things; i.e. polytheism is conceivable, Shinto spirits residing in trees are conceivable, etc.
(So that your argument seems to show way more than you want it to.) I feel as there is a lot in the "God is impossible..." alternative that I'm missing though."

hey blogger Rudy fancy meeting you here. I was thinking in terms of self contradiction. God cannot be deemed impossible by empirical matter so here must be as contradiction in the concept of God.

I don't think I've argued that anything conceivable must exist but merely that the concept of eternal necessary being can't be ruled out unless you show a logical contradiction in the concept. I can show logical reasons why polytheism can't be based upon the assumption of this argument.,
shinto Kommie don't compete with God because they are not necessary or creators.

Eric Sotnak said...

Joe, This is the sort of thing that leads me to avoid debates. It seems you have rushed to defend your premise 1 because you apparently took my comment to be an attack against which a defense must be made lest you "lose" a point. You reply that the premise is "Not ambiguous if you know the literature." (Instead of looking for a way to improve your formulation of the argument, you resort to an ad hominem accusation that I am ignorant of the philosophical literature.)
But whether or not a sentence is subject to different readings on the basis of how it is written (i.e., ambiguous) is not a function of how well or badly one knows the literature. And (ironically, perhaps) one criticism of ontological arguments that has occurred in the literature is that there is often a confusion of necessary truth with necessary existence. Here are several possible revisions I will suggest.
(1') It is either necessarily true that God exists or necessarily false that God exists.
(1'') Either God possesses necessary existence or it is necessarily false that God exists.
Do you see the difference here? The first only treats necessity as a function of propositions, whereas the second invokes both propositional necessity and what we could call ontological necessity. Here is a formulation that strongly highlights the distinction:
(1''') Either God possesses necessary existence or impossible existence.
If you think that impossible existence is obviously confused, then how, exactly, is necessary existence not similarly confused?

(One final point, and I make it in what is genuinely intended as a helpful spirit. Strictly speaking, the argument formulation you begin with is logically invalid (fixably so). This relates to a point I make when teaching critical reasoning. Very often when formulating an argument we (and I do mean 'we' since this is something even most seasoned professional philosophers fall prey to) dash off an argument that omits premises or employs inconsistent wording because we think, "well, anyone should know what I mean, and it is certainly trivially easy to make the argument explicitly valid and consistent in wording." But if it really is so easy, then we should do it. Very often the task turns out to be harder than it first seemed, exactly because hidden ambiguities or conflations emerge, which is precisely the reason for caring about structurally robust argument formulations in the first place.)

Joe Hinman said...

Eric Sotnak said...
Joe, This is the sort of thing that leads me to avoid debates. It seems you have rushed to defend your premise 1 because you apparently took my comment to be an attack against which a defense must be made lest you "lose" a point. You reply that the premise is "Not ambiguous if you know the literature." (Instead of looking for a way to improve your formulation of the argument, you resort to an ad hominem accusation that I am ignorant of the philosophical literature.)


first of all you I'm rushing I told you that answer has been on my site since 1999, that's not rushing. I think it's great that you want to have a discussion. love to do it but I've pleaded with people to come discuss on here like they used to and they just wont, The only thing that works is starting to argue. I was a debater in highscho9l and college so I/m comfortable with it. I can sit back and s=discuss without trying to score points but you would not have commented if I asked for that.

Now you are going to argue anyway.




Joe Hinman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hinman said...

that version I took from this guy;s model version of Hartshrone's argument


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.

Stoebenau said it was valid as did Baird Barid's was very much the same tjhey are both basing it on Hartshorne. I also discussed it with Plantinga in email at one time he I dind't say any of hose thins. maybe he was thinking them and just didn't want to get into it


Joe Hinman said...

Eric, thanks for coming over from secular outpost. I think I've seen you there haven't I? I appreciate your helpful nature. I find there are problems with most words. Almost all philosophical arguments are based upon problematic wording. but I have seen philosophers use the very wording I used In fact that's why I used it.v I am far from expert in that field but I've discussed it with Plantinga several times and with students of Hartshorne. Peter Suber, who doesn't think it's valid. I do think it's valid. the version I used is valid.

Eric Sotnak said...

In your argument, Premise 4 does not follow from the previous premises by any valid rule of inference. The argument is thus invalid. You need (at least) a premise saying that whatever can be conceived without contradiction is not impossible. Notice that adding that premise renders premise 1 unnecessary.

So, a logically valid formulation would be:

1. God is either necessary or impossible.
2. God can be conceived without contradiction.
3. Whatever can be conceived without contradiction is not impossible.
4. God is not impossible.
5. God is necessary.
6. If God is necessary, then God exists.
7. God exists.

Presenting a valid argument is the easy part. The hard part is making a case for soundness.

(On a separate note, the version you give does not match the modal version from Stoebenau (his has 10 lines to your 6.))

Joe Hinman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hinman said...

now that you mention it Hartshorne may have said "God is either necessary or impossible." I put that wording up a long long time ago when I didn't know much about it and it just became holy writ so to speak. thanks for pointing that out.

Eric Sotnak said...

The reason for formulating an argument so that individual premises are singled out and identified is to lay bare as much of the structure and content of one’s thinking as possible. It is a natural tendency for us humans to (a) think that others will surely understand what we mean even when we don’t explicitly say it, and (b) think that we understand perfectly well what we mean, when in fact our own thinking is less clear than we realize. If you were to try converting your original argument into symbolic notation and proving its validity using the kind of natural deduction systems found in standard symbolic logic texts, you would be unable to succeed without the additional premise.

As for Stoebenau's variant: The premise in question is not there. As I said previously, validity is the (relatively) easy part. What is at issue is soundness.

Consider premise 1 of Stoebenau's argument: g -> N(g)
Why should anyone accept this? One of the beautiful things about symbolic notation is exactly that it is possible to prove that an argument is valid entirely apart from it’s semantic content. So, for example,
1. P -> Q
2. P
3. Q
is a valid argument even if one substitutes false (even necessarily false) propositions for P and Q.
So it isn’t really much of a triumph to produce a logically valid argument for any conclusion.

The first reason to be skeptical of Stoebenau's argument is that no argument is given in support of premise 1. But it stands in need of argument. To see this, substitute ‘f’ for ‘g’ where you don’t know what ‘f’ stands for. There are plenty of true propositions that are not necessarily true, so the question now becomes one of providing criteria for necessary truth. And here is where traditionally ontological arguments have run into trouble. Suppose one answers that g is necessarily true because an expanded definition of g contains ‘necessarily existent’. But wait – it isn’t obvious that necessity properly modifies existence at all. So the argument is already presupposing something over which legitimate disagreement could arise. This is why I said over at the Secular Outpost that disagreements over ontological arguments largely boil down to “I can conceive that God doesn’t exist” vs. “No, you can’t.”

Joe Hinman said...

I don't think it is invalid at least not H's version. Sound is more an if than is validity I think. I don't it's really about proving God. it's warrant for belief. I think that's what Plantinga thinks.