Monday, January 14, 2013

Presenting the Ontological Argument for God today at Monroe County Community College

My MCCC Philosophy of Religion classes begin today. I'll take attendance, introduce myself, then explain the syllabus.

My class is divided into three sections. Section 1 is: philosophical arguments for God's existence.

I'll begin by teaching the Ontological Argument for God's existence.

Then we'll look at objections to this argument by Gaunilo and Kant, plus a rejoinder to Kant by Norman Malcolm intending to vindicate the OA.

"The ontological argument is an a priori argument for God's existence which was first formulated in the eleventh century by St Anselm, was famously defended by Rene Descartes in the seventeenth century, and still has important modern advocates, such as Alvin Plantinga... To say that the argument is an a priori argument is just to say that it is a deductive argument from premises whose truth is deemed to by knowable without recourse to any empirical evidence of any kind." (E.J. Lowe, "The Ontological Argument," The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, 391)

Lowe formulates the OA this way:

  1. God is, by definition, a being than which none greater can be conceived.
  2. A being than which none greater can be conceived exists at least in the mind.
  3. It is greater to exist in reality than to exist only in the mind.
  4. Therefore, God - a being than which none greater can be conceived - exists not only in the mind but also in reality.
Today in class I'll formulate the OA like this:
  1. I have an idea a greater than which cannot be conceived.
  2. Therefore, God exists.