Criticisms of the Ontological Argument

Katie Hanlon
Mind Map by , created almost 6 years ago

A-Levels R.E A2 PHILOSOPHY Mind Map on Criticisms of the Ontological Argument, created by Katie Hanlon on 01/14/2014.

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Katie Hanlon
Created by Katie Hanlon almost 6 years ago
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Criticisms of the Ontological Argument
1.1 Definition: The Ontological Argument, which uses a priori logic, states that God, being defined as most great or perfect must exist, since a God who exists is greater than a God who does not.
1.2 It is widely accepted that St. Anselm of Canterbury proposed the first ontological argument in which he declared 'GOD IS THAT, THAN WHICH NOTHING GREATER CAN BE CONCIEVED'
2.1 According to Anselm, to simply conceive of a God who is the 'Greatest Conceivable Being', is to inherently acknowledge its own existence. His first premise states 'The Greatest Conceivable Being exists only in the mind and not reality'
2.1.1 This quote means that one is simply using their imagination to think of something that does not exist in real life. Here he demonstrates that even a fool would acknowledge the existence of the Greatest Conceivable Being in his mind, as he must to take part in the whole argument, therefore God does exist.
2.2 Gaunilo uses a philosophical device known as reducto ad absurdum. He sets up a parallel argument for the critique of the ontological argument; removing the word 'being' from Anselm's premise of 'The Greatest Conceivable Being' and substitutes it for the greatest conceivable island.
2.2.1 He asserts that if this island was the greatest conceivable island then it would take on qualities similar to those of God such as omnipotence and omniscience. The perfect island is the island which no greater can be conceived and any island that does not exist cannot be the island than which no greater can be conceived, for it could be conceived to exist which would be greater. Anyone who thinks that the perfect island does not exist is confused; the concept entails that there is such a thing. The fact that there is no perfect island, then shows that the ontological argument for God's existence is flawed.
3.2 Existence is not a predicate (a property that a thing can either possess or lack). When someone asserts God exists, they are not saying there is a God and possess' the property of existence. If it was the case, they would be saying there is a God and he lacks the property of existence- affirming and denying his existence in the same breadth
3.3 He suggests instead to say something exists is to say the concept of it is exemplified in the world, existence is not a thing possessing property, it is a concept relating to the world. It is now possible to compare a God that exists and a God that does not as existence is not a property of objects
3.4 A God that exists and a God that does not are qualitatively identical. A God that exists is omnipotent, benevolant, omniscient, both are the same. Anselm's claim that an existent God is greater than a non-existent God is false- neither is greater than the other- OA fails
4.1 Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion contains argument against proof of a priori of God's existence. Presented by character Cleanthes. Claims only way to prove a priori is if the opposite implies a contradiction. If something implies a contradiction it is inconceivable, everything can be conceived to exist so nothing can be proved a priori
4.2 To find out whether a statement can be proved a priori, we imagine that it is false. Hume took the statement 'an equilateral triangle has three sides of equal length' and asserted it cannot be imagined false as a triangle MUST have these properties to be a triangle. If we imagine it false, then it cannot be proved a priori, empirical observation would be needed therefore it is a posteriori argument
4.3 To find out whether God is necessary, we must try to imagine he doesn't exist, as we are able to do so, his non-existence is possible. No abstract reasoning could establish his existence because only necessary truths can be proved a priori. The conceivability of God's non-existence shows that his existence isn't possible
6.1 We can't argue from knowledge of essence of something, including God. It exists only as a mental being. He rejected reducto ad absurdum arguments. We as weak limited humans cannot have such a clear understanding of God to allow us to believe 'God does not exist' is a contradiction

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