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Logic and Theism: I-IV


There is a preliminary chapter on what Sobel counts as God. Basically, it is something worth worshipping. Interesting approach. The next three full chapters are dedicated to the a variety of ontological arguments, which also happen to be the most boring of all arguments, as well as the least convincing.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be convincing. Maybe they are the most important, but just don’t have the flair of other proofs. Still, after reading 10 previous chapters on the issue, I’m not inclined to read another 100 pages of dense coverage. I suppose I’ll refer to it again if I need to.

Kindle Notes:

3.2. My semantic proposal is that the name `God’ today expresses our concept of a unique god. It expresses our concept of what would be the one and only true god, even if this concept is not strictly speaking, the sense or meaning of this name (232).

Whatever else [would] he true of God, it must at least be said that God [would he] a worthy object of worship. (Peterson et al. 1991) (263).

My position is that the strongest semantic demand on the correct use of ‘God’ in evidence in its actual religious use is that God would be the one and only proper object of worship (284).

The central ways of greatness of the common conception are omnipotence, omniscience, perfect goodness, and being the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (347).

1.2 Five proofs will be examined. The present chapter takes up classical proofs, starting with Rene Descartes’s in the Fifth Meditation because it is the simplest, going forward to Baruch’s Spinoza’s,which is better, and having saved the best for last, going back to the argument that started the fun, St. Anselm’s. The implicit logic of these arguments is nonmodal quantified; their strategies of proof are at points indirect. The next chapter is about the modal ontological proof of Charles Hartshorne and Alvin Plantinga. Its logic is modal sentential, and its strategy throughout is direct. It is an update of the first ontological argument of St. Anselm. The principal objection to it updates the principal objection of Anselm’s opponent, the Monk Gaunilon, to Anselm’s reasoning. (It is not his most famous objection.) Chapter IV is about Kurt Godel’s ontological proof. Its logic is third-order quantified modal with identity (and more), and its strategy is direct (561).

There is, he implies, no getting around that: “No one who didn’t already accept [its] conclusion [that there is a `maximally excellent’ being] would accept [its] first premise [that there is a possible world in which there is a ‘maximally great’ being, which by definition of `maximal greatness’ is a being that exists in, and is maximally excellent in, every world]”

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