Tuesday, April 06, 2010

One Can't Use "Ontological Argument" Reasoning to Prove the Existence of a Maximally Great Pizza

(Gino's East Pizza in Chicago. It falls just short, gratefully, of a maximally great pizza. I can barely look at this picture without salivating. It is: the world's greatest pizza.)

William Lane Craig here comments on his recent debate with atheist philosopher Victor Stenger. Craig presented a version of the ontological argument for God's existence. Stenger critiqued it by saying that, using the same kind of reasoning, one could prove the existence of a maximally great pizza.

Initially, because I am a pizza connoisseur from the Chicago area who has been transplanted into the pizza-barren-wasteland of Southeast Michigan, I am interested in the idea of a maximally great pizza. But Craig's response tells me I should not be so interested, since a maximally great pizza would be a necessarily existing pizza and, therefore, could not be eaten. If that is true (which it would be, as regards a maximally great pizza), then it would not be a pizza, since an essential attribute of "pizza" is "a food to be eaten."

Craig's point is that the idea of "maximally great pizza" is fundamentally incoherent. It's just Gaunilo's mistake again, re. his "perfect island." Neither islands nor pizzas nor any contingent things have intrinsic maximums. So Stenger's criticism of the ontological argument fails.