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The Ontological Arugment

The Ontological Arugment

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Published by Ben Crenshaw
Research paper on the ontological argument for God's existence. This argument was first formulated by St. Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century and has recently been updated using modal logic by Alvin Plantinga. I believe the argument is valid.
Research paper on the ontological argument for God's existence. This argument was first formulated by St. Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century and has recently been updated using modal logic by Alvin Plantinga. I believe the argument is valid.

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Published by: Ben Crenshaw on Jul 27, 2013
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12/03/2013

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  T
HE
O
NTOLOGICAL
 A
RGUMENT
 ----- A
 
 V 
 ALID
 A
RGUMENT FOR 
C
HRISTIAN
 T
HEISM
 Ben Crenshaw Defending the Christian Faith (PR-501-EV)Dr. GroothuisDue: November 2, 2011 Turned in: November 2, 2011
 
1
 The Ontological Argument and its Nature
 The ontological argument was first postulated by St. Anselm of Canterbury in 1078 in his
Proslogium 
.
1
It is an argument from natural theology and relies upon a priori reasoning to argue for theexistence of God, which means it does not need empirical evidence to be proven correct.
2
Anselm’soriginal statement of this argument is found in a prayer as he wrestled with how to convince the fool inPs. 14:1 of God’s existence. What he came up with was an argument to prove that God exists from the very concept of God himself. Anselm “wanted to find a single argument that would prove not only that God exists, but also that he has all the superlative attributes Christian doctrines ascribe to him.”
3
 His idea was that God is the greatest conceivable being, which by definition
must 
be true, for if onecould conceive of a being greater than God, then God would not be the greatest conceivable being. Inaddition, a being who exists in reality is superior to one who only exists in the mind; therefore, agreatest conceivable being must exist in reality, which means that God exists.
4
This argument isdeceivingly simply and most people have a sense that it just cannot be true. Yet pinning down thefallacy is much harder than one may think.
5
  Anselm never put the argument into formal deductive form. However, that is not hard to doand has the benefit of making the argument clear and concise. It would appear as follows:1.
 
God is defined as a being than which non greater can be imagined.2.
 
 This idea of God exists in the mind.3.
 
 A being that exists in reality is greater than a being that exists only in the mind.4.
 
If God exists only in the understanding and not in reality, then God is not the greatestpossible being since there would be a being greater still.5.
 
It is impossible to imagine a being greater than God.6.
 
 Therefore, God exists in reality.
6
  As a deductive argument, the ontological argument becomes very strong and difficult todislodge. A deductive argument is one where if the premises are correct, than the conclusion follows
 
2
logically, necessarily, and inescapably.
7
This is an extremely important point since anyone seeking todisprove the ontological argument is obligated to prove one of the above premises false.
8
It will notsuffice to simply call it a bad argument, a word game, or trickery of some kind; logical arguments haveto be marshaled in order to expose one of the first four premises as impossible. In deductive form, theontological argument presents a proof for the existence of God.
9
 
 What the Ontological Argument Reveals about God
 Anselm’s argument floats the idea of God as the greatest conceivable being. As such, every positive and great-making divine attribute would have to be ascribed to God; there could be nothing left out. This would include (but is not limited to) such attributes like omnipotence, omnipresence,omniscient, omnibenevolence, perfectly loving, forgiving, kind, compassionate, etc (the list could go onindefinitely). Nothing could be left out, for if God were less than perfect in any one of these attributeshe would cease to be the greatest conceivable being since one could think of a being greater still. Alvin Plantinga, a distinguished scholar of philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, hasformulated a more modern and formidable version of Anselm’s ontological argument. Plantinga’sargument highlights God’s perfection and further clarifies our identity and definition of God. Hisargument is a modal form of the ontological argument which means it uses the logic of the possible andthe necessary.
10
Plantinga couches his argument in terms of three main ideas: possible worlds, amaximally excellent being, and a maximally great being. A possible world is a hypothetical world in which there is a maximal description of reality, or another possible version of the way reality could be. As Dr. William Lane Craig puts it, a possible world “comprises every proposition or its contradictory,so that it yields a maximal description of reality – nothing is left out of such a description.”
11
However,there is only one arrangement of all positive or negative propositions that matches up to actually reality.In addition, Plantinga describes God as being a maximally excellent being, or one that has theproperties of omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection.
12
Finally, a maximally great being is a

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