handout_-_God_-_ontological_argument_-_t

handout_-_God_-_ontological_argument_-_t - Traditional...

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Traditional Ontological Argument John Turri 1. The concept of God We’re talking about the god of classical western monotheism—the concept common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, theologically refined. This is the OOO creator god. Call this god ‘ God ’. God is omniscient (i.e. knows everything), omnipotent (i.e. can do anything possible), and omnibenevolent (i.e. fulfills all moral ob- ligations). God is also infallible (i.e. has no false beliefs). God created the universe. God is unique. There are concepts of other gods: Zeus, Osiris, Horus, Krishna, etc. Different arguments would be relevant to their existence. Our fo- cus here is God. 2. Theism, atheism and agnosticism The question: Does God exist? Three ways of responding: say ‘yes’, say ‘no’, or suspend judgment. Theists say ‘yes’. Atheists say ‘no’. Agnostics suspend judgment. 3. The traditional ontological argument This argument is due to the eleventh century Italian monk St. An- selm, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury. Says Anselm, “You [God] are a being than which nothing greater can be conceived. Or is there no such nature, since the fool has said in his heart, there is no God? At any rate, this very Fool, when he hears of this being of which I speak—a being than which nothing greater can be conceived—understands what he hears . . . . Hence even the fool is convinced that something exists in the understand- ing, at least, than which nothing greater can be conceived. For when he hears of this, he understands it . . . . And assuredly that than which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot exist in the understanding alone. For suppose it exists in the understanding alone: then it can be conceived to exist in reality, which is greater.” Another relevant passage: “if that than which nothing greater can be conceived exists in the understanding alone, the very being than which nothing greater can be conceived, is one than which a greater
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handout_-_God_-_ontological_argument_-_t - Traditional...

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