Vexen Crabtree 2015

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Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards


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Vexen Crabtree 2015
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The Ontological Argument for God does not work

The Ontological Argument for God does not work

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Convolution of Descartes' Ontological and Teleological Arguments for the Existence of God

(Anonymous)
I just wanted to point out that on your webpage analyzing Descartes's arguments for the existence of God, that you've mistakenly combined the ontological and teleological arguments into one argument. The ontological argument for the existence of God relies on the claim that existence is a property of perfection. The teleological argument warrants God's existence by claiming that Descartes' conception of a perfect being - as imperfect as Descartes was - could only have been caused by a prefect being, God. On your website steps (2), (3) and (4) relate to the teleological argument, while steps (5) and (6) relate to the ontological argument. Step (1) has very little relevence to both arguments. Any ways, I hope this helps improve you page, and thanks for trying to help bring philosophy more into mainstream pop-culture.

Re: Convolution of Descartes' Ontological and Teleological Arguments for the Existence of God

Thanks for your comments. I wish I had noticed them earlier!

descartes

(Anonymous)
this is the best website ever. thanks i got so many concepts off of here for my philosophy paper( i gave credit to the site ofcours), but all this def proves descartes was wrong. there is no god.

Re: descartes

(Anonymous)
hi, im not so sure that your argument does prove that descartes is wrong and therefore there is no god. my grasp of language is by no means superior so i am going to try my best to explain myself without too much confusion. i think too much emphasis is being taken here on peoples opinion of perfection, eg. my perfect ice cream would be chocolate but someone elses might be strawberry. people obviously have different tastes, we are all different, descartes is saying that there is an idea of perfection, something which is perfect for everyone,as if it wasnt perfect for EVERYONE it would not be perfect, and we as imperfect beings could not come up with this idea of perfection... im digressing as this is not the ontological argument. also you say descartes theory does no support monotheism, well im not so sure thats what he was proving. descartes was christian but by god all he means is a perfect eternal being, regardless of any religion's view of god they all have these two qualities in common- infintite and onmipotent.

where the real trouble lies is here, the ontological argument seems nothing more than a clever play on words, could you please post some arguments for this as all though it doesnt seem convincing at first glance it is very difficult to completely disregard. existence is a property of god like degrees adding up to 180 is a property of a triangle. now whether or not a triangle exists in the 'real' world our idea of it has to have 180 degrees at least. howver because existence is a property of god that mere fact that we are even compelled to think of this idea means that he does exist in the 'real' world... now that was poorly worded but i think you can get what i am saying, so please could you post some criticisms for this argument.

Re: descartes

(Anonymous)
Hi,
just wanted to comment on the article about descartes.
Can any human being say with full authority that God
does not exist just because they believe so, anymore than
someone who believes in God? It seems obvious that there is
a great intelligence behind creation. Nature itself,
procreation, humanity, the planetery systems all are just
some examples of life that behold great design and intell
-igence. We can go round the houses and use very academic
means and terms to debate for or against. Just because
the subjective belief of a creator is so does not make it
delusional. We cannot speak for the rest of humanity
in their personal relationship with the force within them.
Unless your mind is open to there being a creator, then
you will not have what I would term an intuitonal relationship
with the creator within and how life is directed by that
force. Having an intiuitional relationship with the creator
reveals that there are no such things as coincedeces, that
there is a plan unfolding that we are intricately conect-
ed to and governed by and that destiny is something that is
often beyond our control. Timing of events in our lives,
the patterns of our lives, the people we meet, crisis,
learning curves all have meaning and purpose and we are on
a journey of self discovery. The creator is both personal
and impersonal and expresses itself through us, through all
existence in infinate ways and means all at the same time.
In this way we can look at a creator from many different
angles as many people do, religiously, scientifically,
philosophically and so on. My conviction in this of course
is my personal experience and understanding of an infinate
creator as a whole is obviousloy beyond the limits of my human understanding.
However, how I experience a personal relationship with the
creator is in my everday life. The uncanny timing of events
lessons that come along at exactly the right time I need
to learn them. People that come along at exactly the right time. People that teach me a little bit of wisdom
everyday be it strangers in passing or friends, associates.
Mystical experiences that you just can't talk about with
people that are overly logical, overly rational to the
point of over riding cynisim (rather than plain old, reosonable skeptisim). Their minds are closed! Also, people out
there tend to take existence for granted. They don't contemplate
the grandness of it all, or just how magical life really is.
They don't percieve the creator speaking to them, they don't
grasp that intricate, riddle-like language, nor the ironic
sense of humour the creator can express to us, or the events that come along to teach if we can grasp the lessons.
Ultamitely, our relationship with the creator, God is personal
Going to great lenghs and debates to say God does not exist
to me is a very short sided view and just as subjective as those
beliefs or perceptions the author argues against in objecting to there being a God.
Using academic terms in such debate does not nesseserily
clear the matter up or make it more
approachable, convilluted terms serve only to make the already
abstract even more abstract. sorry this reply comes to you
it was meant to appear along with the other letters and comments
in responce to the author's article
jacqueline...email:jaqinthebox68@hotmail.com


Re: descartes

(Anonymous)
No God huh? Read the 21st post on this site.

very wonderfully put together. perhaps add Kant's criticisms? Well they are already sort of in there, but drop his name in, he has the best criticism of the arguement. great page tho! : )

Well for one, your post is well written, although not on the right subject. I agree with the commenter who wrote that you have combined two arguements here, the teleological ontological arguments. If you really wish to refute the ontological argument, I suggest Anselm's argument in its simplest form, then we won't get into language problems and the such. The argument goes as follows in plain English.
(1) God (df) is that thing than which no other thing can be concieved of as 'greater'
(2) A thing that exists is greater than a thing that does not.
(3) Therefore God exist.

Tips for refuting the argument... Focus on number two. One is correct, don't waste your time there, because it's a theoretical definition, it does not define God as existing. Think of a Sasquatch (bigfoot) define it, although existence is unknown for sure, you can still define it.

Norman Malcolm argued in favour of the argument, but only that it shows the existence of God in the human mind. The strength here is that the by showing the existence in the human mind, it shows atheism to be contradictory, which you can use to show that God exist in reality.

Now before I get comments attacking me personally (it's the internet, it will happen) I would much rather get comments attack the argument. I've studied it for a long time, as well as the criticisms that it faces, and I have to say it is sound. I have no idea whether there is a God or not, I'd like to think of myself as agonistic, and I will be the first to admit that this argument hasn't persuaded me to become a devout Christian. That being said though, as far as a philosophical argument goes, this one is pretty sound.

Lastly I will recognize that it relies on some pretty heavy asumptions about God, being Omnipotence and Omniscience, and some arguments with-in those concepts are definately contradictory to the Judeo/Islamic/Christian God. However I believe this argument works very well when thinking of God from an Agonistic viewpoint. Religion is seperate from God. It is the story of God and I think some of your criticism of God in some of your articles weight too heavily on the contradictions within scripture. I like your writing and your site, I really do, these are just some thoughts I had. If you have any criticisms for me, I'd love to hear them

calling yourself a Satanist ruins any amount of intelligence i have built up for you.

I get that sometimes.

Your critisism shows a lack of understanding of basic philosophy. The first thing you need to do is grab one of Plato's works and read about the "forms." In this case perfection is NOT what each particular person thinks is perfection but rather that their is something that is perfection itself. Likewise for "virtue", "justice", "the color red", etc.

The proof may be lacking but you should apply equal scrutiny to your own belief system. The main flaw that I initially notice is that if you are a God than you must have created yourself or always existed. If that is the case than why did you not create yourself as perfect instead of flawed? Why not with complete knowledge instead of only partial knowledge?


1. I am aware of and understand Plato's idea of perfect "forms": I think of them in term of computer programming objects that you get from an object library. You create "instances" of objects (and mixtures): The original "library" is Plato's perfect forms; any Earthly instance of them is, however, imperfect.

2. The Godhood you are talking about is called solipsism. http://www.vexen.co.uk/3/solipsism.html is my page on that; I do not believe in it. But if I did, then, I haven't "created myself" as imperfect. But, for want of something to do, I've created a conscious part of myself (me) that is limited. For fun. Or something.

In Satanism the self is viewed as god (http://www.dpjs.co.uk/worship.html ) for epistemological reasons, not cosmic ones. We create a mental picture of the world around us (psychology 101), and it is our own character and will that forms how we experience the world. Basic psychology; but with the symbolism taken to an extreme.

Actually, it is not "our own character and will that forms how we experience the world." If you learned that in Psych101 then you should probably take an upper level course. It is by and large the other way around in that our experience of the world forms our character and will. In addition, we have pretty much no free will when it comes to our sensation, perception and cognition of the world around us. You learn these things in upper level Psych courses.

OK, try these, none of which are from Psych 101 material, and all of which are from properly cited professional psychology books:

“Experiments confirm that people easily misperceive random events as confirming their beliefs. (Crocker, 1981; Jennings & others, 1982; Trolier & Hamilton, 1986). If we believe a correlation exists, we notice and remember confirming instances. If we believe that premonitions correlate with events, we notice and remember the joint occurance of the premonition and the event's later occurance. We seldom notice or remember all the times unusual events do not coincide. [...] People see not only what they expect, but correlations they want to see.”
"Social Psychology" by David Myers, p114

(Bold formating is mine). The phenomenon of people forming internal beliefs and hypothesis based on their own expectations and character is frequently called the "top-down processing" of perception. Another two well-known and respected psychologists, Eysenck and Keane, explain this explicitly:
“Towards the end of the 1970s, theorists argued that virtually all cognitive activity consists of interactive bottom-up and top-down processes occurring at the same time. Perception and remembering might seem to be exceptions, because perception obviously depends heavily on the precise stimuli presented (and thus on bottom-up processing), and remembering depends crucially on stored information (and thus on top-down processing). However perception is also much affected by the perceiver's expectations about to-be-presented stimuli.”
"Cognitive Psychology" by Eysenck & Keane, p2

It's not just immediate perception that is influenced by our character, though, but the full spectrum of our cognitions. Here is Richard Gross on memory recall:
“Bartlett concluded that interpretation plays a large and largely unrecognized role in the remembering of stories and past events. [...] Rather than human memory being computer-like, with the output matching the input, Bartlett and Hunter believe that we process information in an active attempt to understand it. Memory is an 'imaginative reconstruction' of experience.”
"Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour" by Richard Gross, p303

This mixture of expectation, assumption (both coloured by character) can affect an entire cultures' interpretation of certain types of event. The psychologist William James noted that different personality types have a tendancy to take up different religions. An author on comparative religion, Moojan Momen, writes:
“Religious experiences tend to conform closely to cultural and religious expectations. Village girls in Portugal have visions of the Virgin Mary - not of the Indian goddess Kali. Native Americans on their vision quest see visions of North American animals not of African ones. Thus it would seem that religious experiences, no matter how intense and all-consuming, are subject to constraint by the cultural and religious norms of the person to whom they occur. Another way of looking at this is to say that there can be no such thing as a pure experience. An experience always happens to a person, and that person already has an interpretive framework through which he or she views the world. Thus, experience and interpretation always combine and interpenetrate.”
"The Phenomenon Of Religion: A Thematic Approach" by Moojan Momen, p114

Quotes are taken from "The False and Conflicting Experiences of Mankind" by Vexen Crabtree (2002), which contains full references for the books cited.

1. You will find that only 50% of our personality is developed due to our environment; I list some of the major personality traits and cite examples of studies on "Evolution: Evidence, Unintelligent Design, Inherited Traits and Artificial Life" by Vexen Crabtree (2007).

2. I agree that we have no free will in our subjective interpretations of the world.

3. I have no real idea what you're talking about when you say "Psych101" or "upper level Psych courses". I base my information on scientific publications and professional books that do not classify themselves into "levels".

yeah what he said.. i guess he got there first...

omg wrong wrong wrong

(Anonymous)
"As a Satanist I have a strong counter argument resulting from taking Descartes' argument to the next logical level:

7. As this being exists on account of my rendition of it, then without me this perfect being would not exist. Therefore I am more powerful than the perfect being and I am the true God. If I die, the God created to suit me dies"

your 7th level is so full of errors i dont even need to list them. but for the readers sake here goes:

I will use your translation of what was the Ontological Proof of Rene Descartes:

1.I exist

2.I have in my mind the notion of a perfect being

3.An imperfect being, like myself, cannot think up the notion of a perfect being

4.Therefore the notion of a perfect being must have originated from the perfect being himself

5.A perfect being would not be perfect if it did not exist

6.Therefore a perfect being must exist

then yours:

7. As this being exists on account of my rendition of it [you only have a notion that a perfect being might exist, as level 3 says you cannot even RENDER it or think up it because it is perfect and you are not], then without me this perfect being would not exist [level 5 says that it would not be perfect if it did not exist and related to level 3, it is not corollary that if an imperfect being dies so does the perfect being which his notion]. Therefore I am more powerful than the perfect being and I am the true God. If I die, the God created to suit me dies [level 2,3,4 never said it suited "I" it wasa a mere notion of a perfect being, "I" was not even able to think or render it in his mind because, level 3 states, he is imperfect.]

Thats just a few so many more better logical arguments are available to disupte level 7 of the author.




on problem two:

(Anonymous)
just because we cannot fully understand the concept of perfection does not mean that we cannot have an idea that a perfect thing may exist.

you have some seemingly interesting points, however they are just hashed out from other peoples'. this paper would have a lot more power if you actually used Descartes's Discourse on Method as a source and pointed out his argument's contradictions and other flaws personally. by using third party work, you show that while you know what topic you are writing about, you haven't studied it first hand. This flaw of your own work removes any legitimacy you might have of otherwise had.

I debate these points in order to stimulate thought and root out irrationality. As such, I don't really have much need to go to first sources. It's the arguments and logic that count. My 'legitimacy' is less important.

In Defense of the Philosophers

(Anonymous)
Your presentation of Descartes' argument and your arguments against him both were very philosophically weak. Since you did not supply or reply to any objections, I shall attempt to do justice to these philosophers and take a stance in their defense. This is going to be done in two comments. Reply to Solipsism Just because something "seems" wrong doesn't make it wrong in actuality. Much of relativistic physics seems wonky and intuitively wrong, yet it is quite right. To say that if two events are simultaneous in one reference frame then those same events are simultaneous in all reference frames seems an intuitively true statement. But relativistic physics shows this to be necessarily false. Furthermore, you presuppose in your claim that an idea of perfection is necessarily subjective to the individual, i.e., that each individual's conception of perfection is unique to that individual. Clearly, Descartes is arguing that the idea of God stems from an idea of objective perfection that isn't unique to the individual. Hence, Descartes' argument doesn't prove polytheism, but monotheism, in that the objective perfection pertains to the same idea in all people. Reply Problem 2 You seem to be having difficulties with the apparent multiplicity of manifestations of God as described by the Abrahamic religions. But Descartes' proof isn't for anything more than the existence of the most perfect being, i.e., God. The case where all three Abrahamic religions are wrong in their conceptions of God is compatible with Descartes' proof, so I don't see what the problem is here. To the second objection, I don't see why our conception of perfection needs to be perfect for the proof to work. Necessarily, we are limited beings in thought and capability, and perhaps even unable to entertain any perfect thoughts. But we still might have an idea of what it means for a being to be objectively perfect. I have an idea of what it would be for a being to be objectively perfect, and, although limited, it offers some understanding of that being -- something that is supremely and objectively good, maximally wise, etc. Obviously, something that is maximally good in every consideration is more good than something that is good only in certain considerations (such as an individual's subjective idea of perfection, rather than that individual striving to obtain a universal idea of perfection that is perfect to everyone). This idea has to be necessarily generic, and, if the individual is thinking of something that is not universally perfect, only subjectively, then that individual is not entertaining an idea about God, only a limited concept. The concept of universal perfection needs to have an unlimited scope, and is infinite. We can maintain correct ideas about the infinite, such as rational numbers, without actually having perfect ideas about it. So I don't see what's wrong with the limitation of human thought for Descartes' argument here. The Gasking proof contains a logical contradiction, i.e., the notion of a non-existent entity "doing", which doesn't refer to any coherent concept. The notion of a Euclidean circle that is also a triangle is another example. The Euclidean triangle-circle is simply just not logically possible, and exists neither in geometry, the imagination, or any possible conception you or I or anyone in the universe can maintain. I can write the words 'Euclidean triangle-circle', but that doesn't mean that I can conceive it, nor does it mean that there exists something anywhere in the world, mind, or universe to which it refers. A nonentity doing is another such empty set reference that doesn't actually pertain to a concept, so the conception of nonentity creating is not superior to God, because there exists no such conception. Hence, the argument fails.

Re: In Defense of the Philosophers

(Anonymous)
Reply Satanic problem
7. simply does not follow logically from what has been stated, and confuses the order of causality. God's existence is not contingent upon your existence. Effects are dependent upon their causes, but causes are not dependent upon their effects. For example, when I drop a pen, it falls to the ground. The cause is Earth's gravity, and the effect is the pen falling. Now, Earth would certainly still have a gravity field if I didn't drop the pen, but the pen would not have fallen if Earth did not have a gravity field. In the Cartesian case, you have an idea of God because God implanted that idea of Him in your mind. God is the cause of the idea of God. Now, the idea of God is not the cause of God; we can understand God to exist because we have an idea of him. It implies no contradiction for you to not exist and God to still exist. This problem you raise is not really a problem at all, because it's simply bad causal logic.

Reply Ambiguity
I see you've read Gaunilo's reply to Anselm, "In Defense of the Fool". It's remarkable that you didn't bother to include Anselm's reply to Gaunilo at this point. If I gave you the argument, "Conceive of the most perfect island. Now, this island would be more perfect if it existed. Therefore, this island exists," nobody in their right minds would be convinced. A lot of people make this error, of assuming that the premise in the ontological argument is that existence in reality is superior to, better than, or more good than that which exists only in the imagination. Nobody who actually sincerely puts forth the ontological argument has that premise. In the island example, the island is not made more perfect insofar as it is an island by virtue of existing. The premise is, rather, it is a part of the perfection of a perfect being that it exists. The case of God is a special case, to both Anselm and Descartes, and Descartes argues that existence is inseparable from the idea of God. God is perfect in all respects, so he is perfectly good. Yet, it is a necessary characteristic of the perfect good to exist, because it is better for something that is universally goodness to exist than for it to only be a thought. The perfection of the island is not universally good, and, hence, it is not good that it exist in every scenario. For example, if the perfect island suddenly appeared on top of my house, I would be quite upset with the island, and think it quite bad, but there is nothing about this situation that is contradictory with the idea of the perfect island.

My Conclusion:
It seems like the major limitation of your presentation is that you presume that perfection is relative to the individual without giving any argument that this is, in fact, the case. But this sort of perfection, if it may even be called that, is not actually perfection because it is not always considered perfect, while I, in line with Descartes, Anselm, Leibniz, and even Plato, argue that that which is perfect in all respects and considerations and situations, and, hence, universally and absolutely perfect, is more perfect than any subjective definition of perfection. Any conception of the perfect that is not universally good is, hence, not actually perfect, because there exists a conception of the perfect that is more good than the subjective interpretation. We tend to ascribe imperfect attributes to our conceptions of the perfect because we can only maintain a limited conception of what must necessarily be infinite, in a somewhat analogous way to our understanding of numbers. We can only arrive at a limited notion of the set of real numbers because we cannot entertain all numbers all at once, or even know what every number is. Yet, we still understand something about the set being infinite. We can entertain false notions, and be wrong while seeming right, but every truth of the numbers is an absolute truth, and is true in every case, regardless of whether the individual thinks it to be true or not. Our absolute understanding of universal perfection might be incredibly limited, and is incredibly abstract, but it seems possible that every person can entertain some faint idea of it, if only that it be absolutely good in all respects universally.

another proof

(Anonymous)
Physics has its own proof of the existence of God, and it just so happens to be the 2nd LAW of Thermodynamics. You see, entropy (disorder) increases as time goes on, so all you have to do is imagine going back to when the entropy was at its lowest point, which is zero. The 1st LAW of thermodynamics states that matter cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change forms--i.e. matter to energy. Since energy has a higher entropy than matter, the system with zero entropy would be completely comprised of matter, but you see, there has to be energy INTRODUCED to release some of the matter into energy, but with zero entropy there can be no energy, so there had to have been someone or something, which we can call God, to put the system into action. So, even physics has the edge on your stupid little philosophical jargon and your foot in mouth technique. Don't believe it? Ask your local college or high school physics professor.

Re: another proof

Entropy is a measure of the amount of energy available to do work in a closed system, and has nothing to do with most of what you're talking about.

Energy doesn't have "higher entropy" than matter: Energy and matter are the same thing, but in different circumstances (E=mc2).

Matter is transformed into energy depending on the cirumstances (such as the charge of the partiles), and energy turns into mass depending on things like the strengh of a gravitational field (i.e., a photon of over 1.02 MeV will turn into an electron and positron in a strong gravitational field). None of this says anything about entropy, however.

God, as something that is theorized to be full of creative power and utterly 'organized' (in a sense of not being at all chaotic) would be a being that has zero entropy; by combining real-world physics with theology as you have done, it implies that the total entropy increases over time, therefore god loses more and more potential energy, and gains more and more chaos and randomness as time goes on, until god has evaporated into nothingness. If you disagree with this, then, you must agree that entropy and the conservation laws are incompatible with the idea of god.

Re: another proof

(Anonymous)
The entropy arguments are a completely invalid proof of God. Just because entropy increases over time does not imply that there was ever a point in time when entropy was at zero, and the universe is totally 'ordered'. The function f(x)=e^x, for example, increases over time, so it is decreasing perpetually if one were to look at time in reverse, but at no point is the function ever equal to zero.

However, in response to Vexen, you propose a false dilemma, and the most obvious third option is that God's existence implies no contradiction because God is physical and hence not subject to physical law. Furthermore, what you say concerning God is not valid in a mathematical sense either, because God is considered such a being that is infinite, and hence if God had, say, infinite potential energy, then God would, at all times have infinite potential energy, even if it were possible for him to lose any amount of it. Why, it is not mathematically contradictory to say that God could lose an infinite amount of potential energy and still have an infinite amount of potential energy. Consider: the set of real numbers is an infinite set, and so is the set of integers. But the relative complement R\Z is still an infinite set.

Ontological Arguments

(Anonymous)
I have enjoyed your articles and the discussion.

Any argument is only as good as the initial assumptions it is based upon.
From Descartes we get this basic argument. I am an imperfect being and therefore only capable of imperfect thoughts. If I can imagine a perfect being, that perfect being must have planted the thought in my head and must therefore exist.

The argument falls apart on the initial assumption that God is the model of perfection. Who says so? The early Greek and Roman Gods had the same character imperfections that humans have. The God of the Old Testament is a jealous God and a wrathful God, qualities that God himself (if you believe that what is written in the Bible is the word of God) advises people to avoid because they are imperfections.

Then there is the problem of the Devil. Most if not all people would define the Devil as the great deceiver. How do you know it isn’t the Devil that has planted the very idea of a Perfect God in your head? To do that, it would seem to me, would be the truly great deception and prove the existence of the great deceiver, the Devil but not of God.

Anyway you look at it God/s, the Devil/s are all creations of our imagination, based on our fears and our desires,they are all subjective constructs, not objective realities.

Susan H.

existence

(Anonymous)
Please read my website

www.existenceexplained.co.uk

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