Friday, August 10, 2012

The Modal Argument (Part 2) What does Tillich Do for the Modal Argument?.


If you did not see part 1 Or can't remember it, please go back there are read. In part 1 we said that if God exists he must exist necessarily, this is becuase God cannot be contingent. If God deos not exist then his existence is impossible; meaning not only that there could never be a God becuase the concept of God would be contradictory, it also means that if there is no God now there could never come to be one. Necessary means cannot cease and could not fail to have existed. So if there is no God one can't come into being. It's not a matter of there might have been a God one must missed being formed. It is the case that if there is no God it could only be becuase there can never be one. If God is not a contradictory concept and if its possible there could be a God then there must be a God because God is not a contingency; it can't be that God is only a possibility. If God is possible then he's a certainty.

This argument has drawn a lot of fire. There are many criticisms some valid some not so valid. It strikes me that one which I have not heard but which occurs to me is that it does a bait and switch in jumping from "if God exists he must exists necessarily" to "ok so then he must exist if he's not a contradiction." It looks like impossibility of God is still an open choice it's just not possible to know by means of an ontological argument. Now Paul Tillich is not known for his contributions to the ontological argument. In fact quite the contrary Tillich didn't like the argument and tried to say that demotes God to the level of an individual. He felt this was the case becasue it speaks of God in those terms "if God exists..." as though he's just another factor to be considered rather than being itself. Yet Duane Olson wrote an article for Quodlbet Journal
arguing that Tillich makes an implied ontological argument. I have made my own blog piece developing "Tillich's implied argument."

Remember from chapter 4 that Tillich identified God with truth based upon God’s eternally necessary nature and the eternal and transcendent nature of the Platonic forms and God’s self revelation in Exodus 3:

(1) Tillich understand’s God to be the unconditioned, eternal, transcendent, ground of all being;

(2) Truth is an unconditioned norm based upon the correspondence theory; truth is correspondence between subject and object.

(3) The norm of truth is self verifying sense; truth as a concept cannot be untrue unless the concept of truth is affirmed in contrast to the possibility of untruth. Any particular truth can be doubted but not the concept of truth itself.

(4) Due to this unconditioned, necessary, and indubitable nature the norm of truth is understood to be transcendent of subject and object, and transcendent of any particulars of nature.

(5) The transcendent unconditioned is equated with God in Tilich’s understanding of being itself (from 1); the existence of such a norm is demonstrated in the nature of the norm of truth.

(6) Therefore, we have a rational warrant for understanding the ground of being as synonymous with Tillich’s understanding of “the divine.”

Tillich basically makes the argument himself, in Theology of Culture where he talks about God construed as truth (see chapter 4, Augustine on Being itself). Then he says:

Augustine, after he had experienced all the implications of ancient skepticism, gave a classical answer to the problem of the two absolutes: they coincide in the nature of truth. Veritas is presupposed in ever philosophical argument; and veritas is God. You cannot deny truth as such because you could do it only in the name of truth, thus establishing truth. And if you establish truth you affirm God. “Where I have found the truth there I have found my God, the truth itself,” Augustine says. The question of the two Ultimates is solved in such a way that the religious Ultimate is presupposed in every philosophical question, including the question of God. God is the presupposition of the question of God. This is the ontological solution of the problem of the philosophy of religion. God can never be reached if he is the object of a question and not its basis.[vii]

This is the part not quoted in previous chapter:

The Truth which is presupposed in every question and in every doubt precedes the cleavage into subject and object. Neither of them Is an ultimate power, but they participate in the ultimate power above them, in Being itself, in primum esse. “Being is what first appears in the intellect…” this being (which is not a being) is pure actuality and therefore Divine. We always see it but we do not always notice it; as we see everything in the light without always noticing the light as such.

According to Augustine and his followers the verum ipsum is also the bonum ipsum because nothing which is less than the ultimate power of being can be the ultimate power of good.[viii]

Tillich never calls this “my ontological argument.” He may or may not hint that it is somewhere but I have not seen that. He does not, to my knowledge, put this over as a version of the OA. Yet I feel that it is and it’s essentially what Olson is talking about.

Tillich's argument can be worded in different ways than this. The crucial point of it is his statement that "if we know that being has depth we know there must be a God:" The reason is that God is the depth of being. That's what "ground of being" means; that is linked through the concept of God as truth.

Tillich's famous quote says:

"The name of infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of our being is God. That depth is what the word God means. And if that word has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. Perhaps, in order to do so, you must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God, perhaps even that word itself. For if you know that God means depth, you know much about Him. You cannot then call yourself an atheist or unbeliever. For you cannot think or say: Life has no depth! Life itself is shallow. Being itself is surface only. If you could say this in complete seriousness, you would be an atheist; but otherwise you are not."
Atheists have always sought to reverse the argument. They seek to reverse the premise of the modal argument "If God exists then he must exist necessarily."

Originally Posted by Tyrrho View Post
But that's not your argument. That's just part of your definition of God.

Your argument is that "if it's possible for God to exist, then God must exist."
The reversal is that "if it's possible for God to not exist, then God must not exist."

Of cousre they assume "I don't believe in God now. I don't see one anywhere. so it must be possible for God not exist." It doesn't occur to them they are begging the question because they are wrong and God is real. They thinking of God as an addition to the universe. They think let's just imagine the universe as I think to be anyway, with no god. If being has depth then God is real and they are ignoring the depth. God is not just an addition to the universe. God is the basis of reality.

Here's how I answered the argument above by my friend Tyrrho, which assumed my version of Hartshorne's modal argument:

That's exactly what I said can't be reversed. It's true and it's in the first premise that if God doesn't exist his existence is impossible that's already stipulated. that doesn't that just saying 'I think it might be possible that there's no God" then evokes the "impossibility" clause. that's where I said you are trying parle that clause into an actual done deal. The reason it's not possible goes back to the notion of the depth of of being. God is not must adding a fact to the universe. The universe of god and the Godless universe are totally different worlds. It's not like the extraction of one element a guy called 'God.' It's the difference in a ground of being and no ground of being. It's the difference in being as surface only (just x exits period) or depth of being where reality is not seen and goes way beyond the surface.

You can't just assert that God's lack of existence is possible merely becuase you look out the window and don't see God. You can't assert it just based upon the idea of it. Moreover, if we do assume that God is being itself we are saying that since God is the depth of being then any being points to God. God is not just another factin the universe, not adding a fact to the universe, but is the basis of reality. It's no more possible for God to not be than it is to have a universe without being. Being is indicative of God just as tails of a coin indicates heads.

There are many possible differences for wording of such an argument. The point is Being has to be. Being implies God, therefore, the necessary aspect of being points to the necessary aspect of the divine. I have hybrid argument that combines the cosmolgical argument with ontological overtones in the vein of Tillich's implied OA.

(1)Nothingness as PSA is marked by its own contradiction,

A.True absolute nothingness and PSA are contradictions because nothingness means nothing at all, and PSA is something.

B.True nothingness would lack any essential potential for change; no time, no potentiality, noting at all; therefore, no change, no becoming.

Therefore: (2)Being, in some form, as the alternative to nothingness must obtain to a state of aseity.

(3)Aseity implies eternal and the infinite.

(4)Human being is contrasted by finitude.

(5)The awareness of our finitude in contrast to Aseity of Being creates a sense of the unbounded condition; which evokes our sense of the numinous.

(6) The sense of the numinous creates religious devotion, thus we have an object of religious devotion and theological discourse in Being itself.

(7) An object of religious devotion and theological discourse is a rational warrent for belief.

If you find this hard to take or understand, here's a simpler version:

(1) Sense of the Numinous evokes religious devotion

(2) The sense of the numinous is the sense of the special nature of being

(3) Thus being itself, the ground of being, is the object of religious devotion

(4) whatever is the fit object of religious devotion (the thing that evokes it at the core in the first place) is defined as "God."

(5) since we know this special sense of being existing then QED God exists.

My Analysis of this argument can be found here.

No comments: