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Posts Tagged ‘theology’

As long-time readers may remember, I enjoy occasionally dipping my toes into the shallower tidal pools of theology and biblical apology. Basically because I find the tortured logic, the pedantic adherence to the literal meaning of obvious metaphors, the use of dodgy word play, the reliance on tiny context-free snippets of scripture and so on, to be rather amusing. (Except the various forms of the faux-logical ontological argument. They're not amusing; they're freakin' hilarious.)

So imagine my surprise when I realised, following a brief joke on the phrase "God's not dead," that I had stumbled upon just such a tortuous argument myself. Now, you may have noticed that many of these arguments appear to begin with an unspoken assumption that God exists, and then proceed to justify that assumption. This, you might think, could pose just a tiny bit of a problem for an atheist. Fear not. For this argument to work, we first need to assume that God is non-existent. What fun. Well, I hope it's fun, 'cause I'm about to present it to you in all its glory. Here, Gentle Reader, we go…

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I have, I must admit, something of an amused fascination with the ontological argument for the existence of a god. Or, rather I should say, I'm quite awe-struck by the sheer number of people who seem to believe it's a good argument.

(Long-time readers may remember that I once used it to "prove" the existence of a raspberry-flavoured marshmallow asteroid. Long time commenters will probably remember that Ubi Dubium then proceeded to smash (or possibly squish, given the material in question) my asteroid with their raspberry-flavoured marshmallow planet, damnit.)

For those unfamiliar with it, here's Anselm's version of the argument. There've been "refinements" over the years, but this remains the basis:

  1. It is a conceptual truth (or, so to speak, true by definition) that God is a being than which none greater can be imagined (that is, the greatest possible being that can be imagined).
  2. God exists as an idea in the mind.
  3. A being that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is, other things being equal, greater than a being that exists only as an idea in the mind.
  4. Thus, if God exists only as an idea in the mind, then we can imagine something that is greater than God (that is, a greatest possible being that does exist).
  5. But we cannot imagine something that is greater than God (for it is a contradiction to suppose that we can imagine a being greater than the greatest possible being that can be imagined.)
  6. Therefore, God exists.

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The crowd, here at Vague Deism Crag, watch, in silent prayer and expectation, as William Lane Knievel makes some final adjustments to the Honda Cub of Theology.

The float of the Carburettor of Moral Objectivity is jammed, but no matter; the float-chamber drain-screw gasket is leaking more than enough ontological fluid to stop it flooding.

The splines on the Gear-Change-Shaft of Circular Reasoning have worn completely smooth, but he clamps the Mole-Grips of Presupposition onto the end. They should grip long enough for him to clunk it into second.

The worn-out HT-Lead of False Premise, he replaces with the Lamp-Cord of Gish-Gallop.

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Ontological Marshmallows

  1. Our understanding of a raspberry-flavoured marsh­mallow asteroid is a marshmallow than which no greater can be conceived.
  2. The idea of a raspberry-flavoured marshmallow asteroid exists in the mind.
  3. A marshmallow which exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a marshmallow that exists only in the mind.
  4. If a raspberry-flavoured marshmallow asteroid only exists in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater raspberry-flavoured marshmallow asteroid—that which exists in reality.
  5. We cannot be imagining a marshmallow that is greater than a raspberry-flavoured marshmallow asteroid.
  6. Therefore, a raspberry-flavoured marshmallow asteroid exists.

Daz

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