Kelgray and Beyond

int game_engine(void) {

Miniskirts, Beer, and God

Okay, first of all I got a disclaimer to put out there.  I am not taking a religious view of God in this article.  I’m going to speak of God in a purely philosophical manner.  In no way am I saying that I believe in God or that I do not believe in God.  I’m simply putting the argument out there.

That being said, I’m gonna talk about the miniskirt argument against the Ontological argument for God’s existence.  Now I think a little exposition is in order before I start talking about the argument itself.  The miniskirt argument was first created by myself and Brian Greenslade in the Liberty Lounge at Mount Royal College.  The purpose of coming up with the argument, at the time, was simply so that we’d be able to drink beer in class.  The beer in class argument went something along the lines of, our argument against the Ontological argument for God’s existence deals with miniskirts.   You can’t have in-depth discussions about miniskirts without beer, therefore we necessarily must bring beer to class in order to fully discuss the topics that we are supposed to discuss.  We never actually got around to giving that argument to the prof I don’t think, but it was a damned good idea if I do say so myself.

So anyway, we had to come up with an argument that dealt with miniskirts, and this is what we came up with.  The Ontological argument for God’s existence says that the greatest thing that one can think of must necessarily exist because existence is greater than non-existence.  We had thought that perhaps the argument was flawed as the greatest pizza I can think of is definitely not in existence.  However, this doesn’t work as the greatest pizza I can think of is not the greatest thing that I can think of (or something like that), so we decided to take another route.  In the case of miniskirts, the purpose of a miniskirt is to be small.  So the greatest miniskirt in existence would be infinitely small and so would necessarily not exist (and to all those girls out there who claim that the purpose of a miniskirt is to be small while still covering something up, I’m afraid you are mistaken, the purpose of a miniskirt is to be small).  So it could be that the greatest thing imaginable is such a thing that would necessarily not exist.

Now our prof didn’t really go in depth in regards to this argument (mostly because it was obviously put together while large quantities of beer was being consumed), so now I intend to put the argument in a better form so that it can be taken seriously by those who are not drinking beer in a bar.

Say that there are only three properties in the universe and they all have equal value.  A is better than ~A (not A), B better than ~B and C better than ~C.  Now, of course, it would seem that the greatest thing in existence would have all three properties, A, B, and C.  However, what if B and C were both inconsistent with A?  (that is to say that it would be impossible for either B or C to be true if A is true, and it would not be possible for A to be true if either B or C is true), but B and C are consistent, so they could both be true at the same time.  Then the greatest thing imaginable would be something that isboth B and C but not A (as A, B, and C all have equal value so 2 is better than 1).  Now say that the property A is existence, and B and C are any other properties.  The greatest thing imaginable would necessarily not exist.

now this does not disprove the Ontological argument, but it gives it some more work to do.  Basically it means that the Ontological argument must now show that existence is not only better than non-existence, but that it’s better than any combination of properties that would be inconsistent with existence combined.  Or, alternatively, that it is not possible for any combination of properties to be inconsistent with existence (though it seems to me that this could be proven false simply with the idea of omnipotence, benevolence, and not affecting free will.  If the argument that these things could not coexist is sound, then a being that did not exist could have them, and that may be greater than any being that does exist).

 Thus the miniskirt argument stands against the Ontological argument, bringing it back around to have to solve more classic arguments against God’s existence before it can continue.

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February 16, 2007 - Posted by | Beer, God, Logic, Metaphysics, Miniskirts, Philosophy, Writings

13 Comments »

  1. i think you pose a significant problem for the ontological argument.

    but does the ontological question even really tell us anything? for example, suppose there was a God who was the greatest-imaginable-etc. but what if in fact, there is a God but he doesnt fit the description of what we think is the greatest-imaginable-etc. what if our limited human understanding of greatest-imaginable-etc is too limited to truly comprehend what is the greatest-imaginable-etc. then, it would be impossible for this to prove God unless we can prove our human understanding is sufficiently capable, which would really mean that the human mind was the greatest-imaginable-etc, which would mean we are God.

    obviously this all is quite stupid. so maybe anselm was right. maybe we can “prove” there is a greatest-imaginable-etc, but that doesnt tell us anything about it. God could be nothing more than the rules of the universe. It could be all energy in the universe. It could be anything.

    so with all that said, my take on things is that we must take a presuppositional approach like Francis Schaeffer. anyway, i spend a good deal of time talking about this in part 1 of the book i am writing. http://merehumanity.wordpress.com i would value your thoughts.

    here’s to truth
    peter

    Comment by PB and J | February 16, 2007

  2. It’s the greatest thing that it is possible to imagine. Not the greatest thing that it is possible for us to imagine. He also says that the greatest thing imaginable would have to be sentient (as sentience is better than non-sentience), it would have to be benevolent, etc… so it works out to a pretty good classic definition of God.

    Comment by Taylor | February 16, 2007

  3. i understand that, but the greatest possible imagination is what we can imagine, because we cant imagine anything more than that.

    plus in regard to sentience, this is an example of my point. sentience is something we can imagine. who knows if there isnt something in the universe that is and isnt sentient at the same time. we can only imagine one or the other, not both. ie we cant imagine a paradox.

    so for us to speculate that the greatest imagination is God still doesnt tell us anything. because we arent able to imagine it. so we can never really learn anything about God, which makes the argument pointless because i could care less if there was a “deistic” God. if God is nothing more than a fool on a hill, then i would choose to live my life the way i wanted to. instead, if there is an infinite-personal God, i want to know Him.

    that is why i say, regardless of it technically being possible, the ontological argument is pointless.

    peter

    Comment by PB and J | February 16, 2007

  4. Just because we can’t imagine it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to imagine. Remember that we’re talking about logical possibility here, not physical possibility. It’s logically possible for a pink elephant to dance a jig in the corner of my living room. It’s not physically possible, but it’s logically possible. Paradoxes would be something that are impossible to imagine because they are logically meaningless.

    “if God is nothing more than a fool on a hill, then i would choose to live my life the way i wanted to. instead, if there is an infinite-personal God, i want to know Him. ”

    Wouldn’t this mean that an infinite-personal God is better than a fool on a hill. Therefore the Ontological argument would tell us that God is an infinite-personal God.

    It’s not possible for something to be sentient and not sentient at the same time because every sentence in conjuction with the negation of itself is a false sentence. Something that is both sentient and non-sentent is not a paradox. It is false. A paradox is something that is not possible for it to be true yet it is not possible for it to be false. Like: This is a false sentence. They’re meaningless.

    Comment by Taylor | February 16, 2007

  5. taylor

    thanks for commenting on my book. i posted some responses and changed what i had written for better clarity and correctness. so thanks.

    but in regard to ontological arg, i think you made my point exactly, according to our rational minds, something cant be sentient and not sentient, but thats bc our minds are limited.

    you said that we can imagine that an infinite-personal God is better, therefore, this is that God. however, how are we to know that an infinite personal God is better. we cant prove that. we cant know that. i just believe that as true, i cant prove it.

    so even if the onto arg “proves” theres a God, it doesnt tell us anything about Him, because our minds cant comprehend contradiction, etc. so in order for us to understand why God is important to us, we must have revelation.

    peter

    Comment by PB and J | February 16, 2007

  6. ps

    this is from wikipedia about paradox: A paradox is an apparently true statement or group of statements that leads to a contradiction or a situation which defies intuition. Typically, either the statements in question do not really imply the contradiction, the puzzling result is not really a contradiction, or the premises themselves are not all really true or cannot all be true together. The word paradox is often used interchangeably and wrongly with contradiction; but whereas a contradiction asserts its own opposite, many paradoxes do allow for resolution of some kind.

    The recognition of ambiguities, equivocations, and unstated assumptions underlying known paradoxes has led to significant advances in science, philosophy and mathematics. But many paradoxes, such as Curry’s paradox, do not yet have resolutions which are accepted by everybody.

    i didnt say a paradox has to be contradictory, but that it can be.

    Comment by PB and J | February 16, 2007

  7. Right A & ~A is a contradiction which is not a paradox. It is a contradiction itself, it does not lead to a contradiction.

    And basically what you’re doing is bringing an irrational thought into a rational argument. you can’t say that we can’t use the rules of logic within a rational argument or else the argument becomes irrational. It could be argued that it’s not possible for an irrational argument to define God, but there’s no rational argument that can prove that so those of us who think that we can think about God rationally try to do so.

    Comment by Taylor | February 16, 2007

  8. remember that we’re speaking philosophically, not linguistically. Fromt eh Philosophy pages philosophical dictionary:

    paradox
    An absurd truth. Hence, the derivation of an unacceptable conclusion from apparently unquestionable premises by an apparently valid inference. Resolution of a paradox requires that we abandon at least one of the premises, refute the process of inference, or somehow learn to live with the unpalatable result.

    A, absurd truth means that it is not possible that it’s true and it’s not possible that it’s false.

    Comment by Taylor | February 16, 2007

  9. philosophy is linguistics and linguistics are part of philosophy. i think we may just have different understandings of the word. it doesnt really matter to me what word we use. my point was contradiction, not paradox (as you have defined it).

    peter

    Comment by PB and J | February 16, 2007

  10. Philosophy is more than linguistics. We don’t rely on any specific language when doing our own philosophy, but when we’re dealing with people who we don’t know then we need to have some sort of level ground on which to hold discussions. That’s why philosophical dictionaries are important, much moreso than regular dictionaries. Regular dictionaries are for spelling, no definitions. Philosophical dictionaries tell us whether the words that we’re using can be used the way we mean them to or if we need to find (or create) another word for it.

    Contradictions must be false so long as we’re working within the realm of the rational. All philosophical arguments presuppose the rules of logic. If we break those rules then we are no long speaking philosophically. The belief is that God exists within the laws of logic. That means that any argument against God’s existence can be retorted with the argument that “God is such a thing that he exists outside of the laws of logic”. But that’s not a rational argument so we don’t deal with it. The challenge is coming up with an argument that lies within the laws of logic that either proves or disproves God. As soon as you break from that you are no longer talking philosophically.

    Comment by Taylor | February 17, 2007

  11. as far as philosophical dictionaries being better, i disagree. when i was studying philosophy in college i found that there are many people (who arent philosophy majors) who have no clue what we are talking about because the terminology is so foreign.

    therefore, i try to use the most common and universally accepted definitions. therefore, not saying the philosophical definitions are wrong or that they are bad, but that for my purposes (trying to reach a non-philosophy studying world) i try to speak in laymen’s terms.

    but that doesnt mean you arent right also. just different perspectives and reasons to use each.

    peter

    Comment by PB and J | February 17, 2007

  12. Philosophical dictionaries are better when speaking about philosophy. I agree, though, that more common language should be used, but I prefer to use both, explaining any philosophical terms when I use them so that I can use them again later without having to go through the whole explanation again. I like this method because it also lets me pull words out of my ass if I don’t know the proper term to use and put a definition on it to be used within the body of writing.

    Comment by Taylor | February 17, 2007

  13. helloy

    Comment by Ymseh | May 20, 2007


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