Armchair Proof of Existence of God

Socrates Death IDoes a being that is God1 exist? Before we can disagree on whether or not a being that is God exists, we need to agree on what a being that is God is. There cannot be any disagreement unless there is an agreement on what is that is disputed.

What is a being that is God? A being that is God is a being that there could not be other than that which nothing greater nor equal could be conceived2. Such a being, if exists, must exhibit maximal perfection. Therefore, a being that is God, borrowing Alvin Plantinga’s insightful words, is a being “having an unsurpassable degree of greatness—that is, having a degree of greatness such that it’s not possible that there exist a being having more.” (Plantinga 2002: 102 emp. removed).

My first premise in my attempt to answer the dispute of whether or not a being that is God exists, is thus:

(1) If a being-that-is-God exists then that being-that-is-God could not be other than that which nothing greater (or equal) could be conceived.

Anselm of Canterbury (1033—1109) argued that, if there was such a being then it is absurd to hold that such a being exists in our thoughts alone but not also in reality. According to Anselm, both atheists and theists can agree with (1) (Anselm 2009). Atheists would argue that such a being exists in our minds alone. Theists, however, would argue that such a being exists both in our minds and in reality.

Does a being that is God exist in our minds alone or both in our minds and in reality? It is metaphysically impossible for a being that which nothing greater could be conceived to exist in our minds alone. A being that exists only in our minds has causal power only in our mind while the being that exists both in our minds and in reality has causal power both in our minds and beyond. A being that which nothing greater could be conceived that has causal power both in our minds and beyond is greater than a being that which nothing greater could be conceived that has cause power in our minds alone. But there cannot be a being that is greater than that which nothing greater could be conceived. Therefore, a being that which nothing greater could be conceived must exist both in our minds and in reality.

Further more, a being that which nothing greater could be conceived must not only exist both in our minds and in reality, but must also exist necessarily in all possible states of affairs. A being that which nothing greater could be conceived cannot be a being that it’s metaphysically possible for it to fail to exist, namely contingent being. Otherwise, caeteris paribus, a being that is metaphysically impossible for it to fail to exist, namely necessary being, would surpass the greatness of that which nothing greater could be conceived, which is absurd. Therefore:

(2) If x is that which nothing greater could be conceived, then x must possess necessary existence3.

From (1) & (2), it seems that an affirmative answer could be offered to the question, “does a being that is God exist?”.

(3) If a being that is God exists, then a being that is God exists necessarily.

(4) If it is possible that a being that is God exists, then a being that is God actually exists.

(5) It is possible that a being that is God exists.4

(6) A being that is God actually exists.

This appears to be a valid argument for existence of such a being. Is it also sound? As far as I know, all its premises are more likely true than their negation. I welcome opponents, both theists and atheists, to show me otherwise. Is this a persuasive argument for existence of a being that is God? No. It is not. My aim in presenting it is not so much to persuade atheists to reconsider their position on the ontology of a being that is God per se. I do not believe in God because of such arguments. So why present such argument, you may wonder. My goal is to show that belief in God, a being that which none greater can be conceived, is rationally justified. Monotheists  can (and do) have rational reasons to believe in such a being.

* Yujin Nagasawa is the first to use the tag ‘armchair proof’ referring to ontological arguments.

Anselm, S., (2009). Proslogium; Monologium; Trans. Deane, S. N. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Plantinga, Alvin (2002) God, Freedom & Evil. First published by Harper and Row., 1974. Reprinted 2002.

[1] I used a-being-that-is-God to distinguish between the ontology of God with the epistemology of God. Yahweh, following Jews and Christians, is epistemically understood to be that being that is God, while Allah, according to Moslems, is thought to be such being.

[2] This understanding of the being that is God is accepted by most monotheists (Jews, Christians, Moslem &c.,)

[3] Even though we grant that existence is not a predicate, necessary existence is.

[4] Unless there is inner contradiction with the notion of a being that is God, it appears possible that such a being exists. Atheists would have to argue that it is impossible for such a being exists.

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77 thoughts on “Armchair Proof of Existence of God

  1. “…Atheists would argue that such a being exists in our minds alone. Theists, however, would argue that such a being exists both in our minds and in reality….:

    If God exists in reality then, by definition, reality is greater than God by virtue of being able to contain God within it.

    If God is reality itself then you are just replacing the word ‘reality’ with the word ‘god’.

    “….Another example would be being x(100 USD in my mind alone), …….. I cannot buy a cup of coffee with x…”

    Actually if you study how banks ‘create’ money you’ll realise you do just that every day. But I digress….

  2. The greatest problem as I see it is in the first premise. How do we know that our judgments of the greatness of beings is valid? Are there actually degrees of being? Can the proposition: “Being A is greater than Being B” be proved? What is the objection to the statement “all beings are equal” in quality?

    • John, the first epistemological skepticism of our judgements is most difficult to address. I could argue for a more radical view that does not only question our judgements but our entire noetic beliefs. The way out could be Thomas Reid’s Common Sense Realism.

      I believe there are degrees of being. We can tests them through the use of possible worlds. Say being A is Sherlock Holmes. A has only causal power in our minds. A properties/predicates are totally depending on Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. A exists only in our minds. A catches bad people P only in our minds. Say being B is “Sherlock Holmes 1.1”. B exists both in our minds and in reality. B properties are independent of other sentient beings cognition. B catches P in both our minds and reality. I would say B is greater than A. A has causal power only in mind, while B has both in mind and reality.

      Another example would be being x(100 USD in my mind alone), and being y (100 USD in my mind and in my wallet). Y is greater that x because x had no causal power. I cannot buy a cup of coffee with x, but I can with y.

      Being x and y are absolutely not equal.

      • > I would say B is greater than A.

        Why? You are simply claiming that existing in both our minds and reality makes it greater. Where is your definition of “greater” that we can use to check if this is true?

        Maybe try to give a definition of “greater” in a formal checkable way. For example, does it form a total or partial ordering? i.e. Can we compare any two items and say whether one is greater than another? Or will there be items that don’t make sense to compare? e.g. a banana and an apple. Which is greater?

        What about a being that existed two people’s minds, versus a being that existed only in reality? Which is greater now?

        The first being has causal power over two people’s minds, but the second being has only power over reality. Isn’t two greater than one?

        “Y is greater that x because x had no causal power. ”

        Didn’t you just say that things that are only in our mind still have causal power over our minds? And now here you’re saying that they have no causal power. Which is it?

        • John, the answer is there. Yes the 100 USD in my mind has a causal power only in my mind. I cannot walk in Starbucks and pay for my coffee with the 100 USD that exists in my mind alone.

          However, 100 USD that exists in my mind and in reality(in my wallet) has causal power both in my mind and beyond. I can pay for my coffee with 100 USD that is both in my mind and in reality.

          For my economy, it is better for me to have 100 USD in both mind and reality than to have it only in my mind. The former has causal power both in my mind and beyond, while not so with the latter.

      • The idea of $100 in your wallet is not $100; it is an idea. The money does not exist in your mind. The idea does. The idea that exists in your head is not comparable to the thing it represents. I don’t understand why your struggling to address that.

  3. I don’t see how it follows that because a maximally great being could exist that it does exist. I also think you’re confusing the existence of an idea in one’s head with a real thing; there is nothing that exists in the mind and in reality.

    • I provided two justification for that in my article:

      1. “A being that which nothing greater could be conceived that has causal power both in our minds and beyond is greater than a being that which nothing greater could be conceived that has cause power in our minds alone. But there cannot be a being that is greater than that which nothing greater could be conceived. Therefore, a being that which nothing greater could be conceived must exist both in our minds and in reality.”

      2. “A being that which nothing greater could be conceived cannot be a being that it’s metaphysically possible for it to fail to exist, namely contingent being. Otherwise, caeteris paribus, a being that is metaphysically impossible for it to fail to exist, namely necessary being, would surpass the greatness of that which nothing greater could be conceived, which is absurd”.

      I am not confusing the existence of God in our minds the existence of God in both our mind and reality. The argument I presented is to show that it is not the case that “there is nothing that exists in the mind and in reality.”

      • You do not exist in my head. My computer does not exist in my head. Ideas of these things exist in my head.
        There are no Gods in my head. There are only ideas of Gods in my head.
        Nothing you have presented clarifies, rebuts, addresses or even alludes to the idea that NOTHING in your mind also exists in the real world. They don’t. Ideas are not the actual things the ideas are about.

        • Very correct. I exist in your head as idea/concept of Prayson. What I argued is that the concept of God, a being that which none greater could be conceived, leads as to believe such a being which we have the concept of in our minds cannot only exist in our minds alone.

          • Just like how a supreme Flying Spaghetti Monster whose definition includes that none greater that it can be conceived, cannot only exist in our minds alone.

          • John, I already point out that the idea of supreme FSM is incoherent. We can conceive of a greater being than FSM. Keith is right, we can conceive of a greater Italian dinner who ate all the meatballs and spaghetti that constitute FSM.

            You are free to conceive any beings, but the question is is it coherent. Moreover as Yujin Nagasawa pointed out, FSM is not an analogy to GCB because FSM is a class of being while GCB is a school of beings (including all classes).

            This marks my end of discussion as I am not moved to add more than what I presented so far, namely FSM is an incoherent notion, and FSM is not analogous to GCB.

          • “We can conceive of a greater being than FSM.”

            No, you’ve simply stated this with absolutely no proof or reason, and gone quiet when I’ve asked for it.

            And you still haven’t even presented any definition of “greater”, despite me asking twice.

            “we can conceive of a greater Italian dinner who ate all the meatballs and spaghetti that constitute FSM.”

            I can think of an infinite number of ways around this, and you haven’t even shown that a being that ate the FSM would be greater. We could simply say that the FSM is uneatable, or that being eaten doesn’t diminish him, and so on.

            “You are free to conceive any beings, but the question is is it coherent. ”

            Yes – you’ve completely failed to prove that this FSM is incoherent.

            “FSM is not an analogy to GCB because FSM is a class of being while GCB is a school of beings (including all classes).”

            Completely irrelevant since you’ve given no definition of “greater” that requires such a thing, and no such requirement is in your argument.

            If your argument doesn’t rely on what “class of being” they are, then it’s irrelevant.

            “This marks my end of discussion”

            Of course it does, because it destroys your argument. All you can do is say that it’s incoherent without proving it to be, and then refusing to justify it at all.

  4. I’ve never been convinced that there isn’t a modal scope problem with the O.A. What is the greatest weakness of the argument in your view, Prayson? Unless you want to perpetuate the suspense.

    • Philosophically, I have not come across any serious option. The classical ones, existence is not a predicate, defining God into existence, presupposing God existence, the argument proof anything made-up, e.t.c. do not hold water. Leading defender of this arguments is Yujin Nagasawa. He addressed each objections past and present to a point where I am convinced that there is no good objection.

  5. It would be nice to know what actual rather than imaginary properties define ‘greatness’ if we’re going to use the term to describe a ‘thing’.

    I suspect the term ‘greatness’ itself is relative only to actual things that can be demonstrated by comparing and contrasting actual properties with actual things. When we start with only a notion we call a ‘no thing’ and attribute maximal properties to this ‘no thing’ that are themselves nebulous and ineffable and unavailable for comparing and contrasting, then we assume by default that the term ‘no thing’ is itself a ‘thing’ with actual properties. By doing this, we fool ourselves into believing our ill-defined mental construct has been ‘deduced’ from reality when, in fact, we have imposed it on reality.

    We know this imposition is active because it is exactly backwards to how we deduce information from reality to reveal its content. We pare away causal effects one mechanism at a time to see what’s left or we create situations where two things produce the unknown third.

    This argument presumes in its first premise the conclusion, that God-by-nebulous-and-ineffable-definition exists to give this hyphenated term any meaning. That’s the presumption, and it is fatal.

    So, come at this from reality’s starting position: show me God. Demonstrate its actual properties. Compare and contrast these demonstrated properties to determine how ‘great’ they are. Conversely, create the situation that reveals the causal effect of God by paring away all other mechanisms.

    By not doing these, you are in effect talking about a subject that has no object.

    • This comment shines brilliance in thought. You raised one of classical objections to this family of arguments, namely its first premise assumes God’s existence.

      I do not think that is a fatal flaw nor a flaw at all. The first premise does not assume God exist in reality but God exists in our understanding. The “if” in (1) shows that God either exists(in reality) or not.

      1. If Prayson is home alone, then Prayson is reading philosophical journal.

      This does not presume that Prayson is reading a philosophical journal. Similarly to 1,

      2. If God exists, He is the greatest conceivable being

      does not presume God exists.

      Even if it does presume its conclusion, all valid deductive arguments do so. E.g. All man are mortal, Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal. It appears that the conclusion must appear in one of the premises in any deductive of argumentation.

      The second objection of attributing properties to “nothing” is hard to understand. “Nothing” cannot have properties per definition. It has no attributes and cannot have them.

      Thank you for a well thought of criticism. You have a beautiful mind 🙂

      • I think the criticism becomes clearer when you try to define what is meant by ‘the greatest conceivable being’; this turns out not to be anything ‘out there’ (something that can be shown by comparison to be ‘greater than’) but an identical duplication of anything previously used to define what is meant to be understood as ‘God’. The problem is then a tautology, namely if God, then God. This is the flaw in that the conclusion, therefore God, is premised on that very assumption, namely, God is.

        • Describing something into existence (synthetic truth) does not equal definitional (analytic) truth, but this awkward fact doesn’t seem to bother the theistically minded.

          • I’ve noticed this pervasive method constantly in use by those who want very much to justify beliefs they hold about reality (and the ‘agencies’ it supposedly contains) when reality doesn’t produce and support these justifications with reasonable evidence. The trick constantly employed is to then introduce an axiomatic and closed metaphysical framework – rearranging words inside it with self-appointed meanings to arrive at the desired conclusion – and then present this ‘finding’ as if this reveals a part of ‘hidden’ reality. This is fine as far as a hypothesis goes but this ‘finding’ remains just that: a hypothesis desperately in need of modelling in reality for testing. It is this last part that so many people seem so unwilling to undertake. This covers the gamut from conspiracy thinking to anti-fluoridation, climate and evolution denial to anti-vaccination believers, from religion to dowsing, from chiropracty to homeopathy. from reiki to faith healing: what’s missing in every case is not just compelling evidence from the very reality this method is supposed to ‘reveal’ but significant evidence contrary to the modeled hypothesis.

            So strong is the desire to believe that we witness tremendous mental gymnastics to come up with that ‘finding’… in spite of a very long and rich history of how this method has fooled us to tragic proportions. Anthing – no matter how ludicrous – can be justified by using this method… but that doesn’t seem to make much of an impact on those who continue to engage it to support their personal wishes for how they want reality to be.

          • Synthetic propositions cannot be proved, but they can be concluded. If you had actual evidence you would never have penned this post, correct? The very fact that you’re trotting out a virtually unchanged one-thousand year of word game is evidence Christian philosophy has not advanced its cause a single millimetre in that time. “I can think of god, therefore god exists” might have worked spectacularly well in the simpleminded, jejune monasteries of 11th Century Canterbury, but the only place where such vaporous verbal folly will be greeted with eager nods today is inside bible colleges where the pupils aspire to be deceived.

  6. Does being greater (or equal) to each being mean a-being-that-is-God possesses every attribute of each being, or is it only necessary to possess the greatest version of each attribute (which could be argued to be godhood itself)?

    • Beautiful question. The attributes discussed are what Plantinga call greatness making attribute. Example Being A knows the answer to very second question while being B knows the answer every question. Everything else being equal, B is greater than A because wisdom/knowledge is a greatness making property. Power, presence, moral perfection &c., are other greatness making properties. In Cartesian understanding, it is only of positive attributes.

      Did I begin to answer your question?

          • Why would it be good to have more meatballs than less meatballs? What’s your reasoning here?

            And why doesn’t this apply to your God? Surely 0 meatballs is even worse then?

          • There is a difference between quality and quantity. FSM is made of quantities, meatballs and spaghetti. There can always be one more n quantity to add of a being composed of material stuff. Greatest conceivable being is not composed of quantities but qualities thus the infinity objection does not apply. 😉

          • > There can always be one more n quantity to add of a being composed of material stuff.

            You’ve already admitted that adding quantity wouldn’t make it greater. So this is irrelevant.

            > Greatest conceivable being is not composed of quantities

            Prove it.

            > but qualities thus the infinity objection does not apply. 😉

            You’ve just randomly stated this without any reason or argument.

  7. Define the FSM such that it is:

    – A maximally great spaghetti monster. A spaghetti monster that is so great that nothing can be greater than it.

    Now does this just exist just in our minds? It cannot, because a spaghetti monster that exists would be greater than one that doesn’t. So therefore by definition a FSM cannot exist only in our minds. Therefore it must exist.

    And therefore I’ve proven that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

    • FSM exists only in our minds alone. It does not exists both in mind and in reality.It cannot exist in reality because it is metaphysically impossible for there to be such thing as greatest FSM.

      The notion of greatest FSM is incoherent. Because for any FSM M we can concieve a greater than M viz., M + one more meatball (or spaghetti) to infinity. So there cannot be a greatest FSM, since for any FSM we can add extra meatball to make it greater that the previous. So Just like the original “perfect Island”, it does not challenge this argument.

      • Why should one meatball more make the spaghetti monster greater? Is has, of course, the PERFECT amount of meat balls. Adding one more would make it worse, not better.

        • Perfection can only be archived in quality never in quantity. Example there is no greatest number of stones. For any n number we can add 1, n+1, and so on to infinity. So there is no such thing as perfect quantity of X. Meatball is of quantity thus cannot have perfection.

          • It cannot be reached because there is no such thing as a perfect FSM. It is an incoherent idea. Moreover, I can conceive of greater FSM eater, FSME who ate the FSM, thus FSM does not exists. It is being eaten 😉 (If you get the humor)

          • Yes, you can. And you still don’t see why trying to conclude from what you can imagine (or not) what IS, is nonsense? I’m always fascinated by people’s ability to ignore the obvious for things they want to be true but see them perfectly clear for other stuff…

          • > Perfection can only be archived in quality never in quantity.

            Great. So why were you insisting that 3 meatballs is better than 2?

            > Meatball is of quantity thus cannot have perfection.

            Could you fix your grammar and try again please.

          • > It cannot be reached because there is no such thing as a perfect FSM. It is an incoherent idea.

            Prove it.

            > Moreover, I can conceive of greater FSM eater, FSME who ate the FSM, thus FSM does not exists. It is being eaten 😉 (If you get the humor)

            No, all you can conclude is the greatest FSM simply has the property of being uneatable. Therefore nothing could eat it.

          • .. or that an eaten FSM doesn’t diminish it at all.

            Like Anpanman, which is a cartoon superhero that lets people eat his head when they are starving.

      • > FSM exists only in our minds alone.

        That’s not possible by definition, because if it doesn’t exist then it can’t be maximally great, which it must be by definition.

        > It cannot exist in reality because it is metaphysically impossible for there to be such thing as greatest FSM.

        You’re wrong.

        > The notion of greatest FSM is in coherent. Because for any FSM M we can concieve a greater than M viz., M + one more meatball (or spaghetti) to infinity.

        Having more meatballs doesn’t make it greater. Argue why you think more meatballs makes it greater.

  8. Interesting argument! I can follow it except in one part, maybe you could help explain it for me. I’m stuck on premise 4. What converts something that is *possible* to *actual*?

    • Thanks Josh for your question. If x’s existence is possible, then there is at least one possible state of affair where x exists. If x possess necessary existence, then x exists in all possible states of affairs. If x exists in all possible states of affairs, then x exists in the actual states of affair. Actual state of affair is one of possible states of affairs.

      What converts something that is possible is necessary existence.

      • > FSM exists only in our minds alone.

        That’s not possible by definition, because if it doesn’t exist then it can’t be maximally great, which it must be by definition.

        > It cannot exist in reality because it is metaphysically impossible for there to be such thing as greatest FSM.

        You’re wrong.

        > The notion of greatest FSM is in coherent. Because for any FSM M we can concieve a greater than M viz., M + one more meatball (or spaghetti) to infinity.

        Having more meatballs doesn’t make it greater. Argue why you think more meatballs makes it greater.

      • You need to be careful with the word “possible” here, since you’re (intentionally?) conflating different meanings.

        Take this invalid argument for example:

        1. Pick an unsolved math theorem. Say, the Hodge conjecture.
        2. We don’t know whether the Hodge conjecture is true or not.
        3. Therefore it’s possible that the Hodge conjecture is true.
        4. But mathematical theorems of necessary
        5. Therefore since the Hodge conjecture is possibly true, the Hodge conjecture is necessarily true.
        6. Therefore the Hodge conjecture is true.

        This is invalid of course because it’s a conflation of the different meanings of “possible”.

        We would have to say “we don’t know if the Hodge conjecture is possible or not. It’s possible that it’s possible”. Thus we need to apply the exact same wording for a necessary being: “We don’t know if God is possible or not. It’s possible that it’s possible.”

        • I think that is basically the modal scope problem to which I’m alluding. But, remember what Prayson said in the post: “Is this a persuasive argument for a being that is God? No….My goal is to show that belief in God…is rationally justified.” If I read him correctly, he’s holding the same position as Plantinga on this argument. In that case, problems with modal scope are irrelevant, and the argument is solid. The interesting thing for me is what the unstated premises of the argument illustrate, so the comments have made for very interesting reading. Like most non-believers, I view belief in God as an over-reach, but it is not necessarily 🙂 an irrational over-reach.

          • So would you argued that my argument makes it rationally justified to believe that the Hodge Conjecture is true?

            That it’s not an irrational over-reach to therefore believe the Hodge Conjecture to be true?

            This is all ridiculously stupid.

          • No. I’m saying that you would be rationally justified in believing that the Hodge conjecture might be true. The way I understand it, the O.A has two apologetic uses. First, it demonstrates that belief in God (as opposed to knowledge of God) is not irrational (would you say that someone trying to prove an unsolved theorem is off their rocker?). Second, it can be used to show that what may be is not what may be rational. Neither of those conclusions is particularly troubling or consequential to me. Are they to you?

          • “First, it demonstrates that belief in God (as opposed to knowledge of God) is not irrational (would you say that someone trying to prove an unsolved theorem is off their rocker?). ”

            You seem very confused between believing that something IS true, and believing that something COULD BE true.

            Believing something to be true without evidence is IRRATIONAL. Believing something COULD be true if there’s not strong evidence against is RATIONAL.

            Believing in God is not the same as believing that there could be a God.

          • We act on ideas which we take to be provisionally true all the time. The cholesterol theory of atherosclerosis comes to mind. We choose to do so based on an idea’s coherence. I take that to be rationality, and I think I’ve got pretty solid ground to stand on when I say that’s how we use the term. This argument seeks to demonstrate the internal logical consistency of a belief in God. I think it also demonstrates that, by the nature of the concept, that’s the best you’re going to do. I don’t see it as something outrageous when it’s presented in this way. If someone claims it catches God by the tail, that’s another story, but I don’t think that’s generally the case nowadays.

          • So if I gave you a coherent definition of the flying spaghetti monster, that was internally consistent but had absolutely zero evidence for it, you think it would be rational to thus believe that the flying spaghetti monster exists?

          • False analogy. The FSM already demands a bit of correspondence doesn’t it – to Italian dinner? The Bohm interpretation of quantum mechanics, on the other hand, would be a concept which lacks proof and may be unprovable, yet may be held rationally.

          • “The FSM already demands a bit of correspondence doesn’t it – to Italian dinner?”

            This is your attempt to prove that the FSM cannot exist?

          • You’re not giving any reason why.

            You stated that it’s rational to believe in something without any evidence, as long as it’s coherent and self-consistent.

            So therefore, by your logic, it’s rational to believe in the FSM if you have a coherent and self-consistent definition.

            What part exactly do you disagree with ?

          • So, lets go back to the Bohm interpretation of QM. Would you agree that it is something rational to believe? There is no evidence for it. It is an idea derived from the basic rules and definitions of QM. It is a logical extension. That’s the sort of claim made by the O.A. If we talk about logical necessities, possibilities, superlatives and identities seriously, then we can rationally postulate an entity in the zone which those rules and definitions delineate. Whether that critter actually is would then depend on whether or not rationalism holds. I have good reason 🙂 to believe that rationalism is bullshit. In fact, I think Plantinga’s EAAN demonstrates that rationalism is untenable.
            When someone begins to hang a bunch of attributes on our rationally derived entity, the FSM then comes in handy. You say the logically justified entity has intentionality, bestows souls, and participates in causality? Now you owe me an explanation better than my assertion that meatballs fly.

          • > Would you agree that it is something rational to believe?

            No – if there’s no evidence for it, then it’s wrong to believe it to be true.

            How is this not obvious to you?

            You’re not explaining why it’s okay to believe that a particular QM interpretation to be true without any evidence is rational, but why believing that the FSM is true without any evidence is not rational.

          • Yeah, I just explained that. But I’m not always the best explainer, so I’ll try again. I believe in abiogenesis. There is no evidence for abiogenesis, but the rules of biochemistry permit me to rationally postulate abiogenesis. Abiogenesis is consistent with the theoretical structure of biology in general, and biochemistry in particular. This doesn’t mean that abiogenesis happened – that is something which we can probably never know for we will never have evidence of it. But it is a postulate consistent with the very useful way in which I talk about biology, so I take it as provisionally true.
            Panspermia has as much evidence for it as abiogenesis. But panspermia doesn’t just rely on the underpinnings of biochemistry. It depends upon a load of extra-theoretic conditions tacked on to the reliable rules of biochemistry. The advocates of panspermia owe me an explanation of those conditions, and why they might attach to the rules of biochemistry, if they want me to take their idea more seriously than abiogenesis. Otherwise, I might as well say that life sprang from the vital touch of a noodley appendage.

          • Perhaps I’m not comprehending your point very well, Keith, but you seem to be suggesting that a lack of definitive evidence doesn’t really matter to determining the quality of a general belief.

            Contrary to your assertion for an utter lack of specific evidence behind some general models (like some models found in biochemistry, mathematics, quantum physics, whatever), there are indeed many lines of evidence consistent with an abiogenesis model, one of which is panspermia* **. You make it sound like ‘believing’ that these general models are worthy of serious consideration only if the specific hypotheses contained within them are definitive… because both lack defintive evidence.

            This is factually incorrect.

            There is a difference in believing in some version of POOF!ism without any modelling explanations supported by any lines of evidence whatsoever with models that do possess lines of compelling evidence. I think this is the ‘obvious’ difference pointed out succinctly by John. Because of an erroneous assumption you make for an equivalent absence of evidence for abiogenesis – containing panspermia – and POOF!)ism), you avoid the fact that it is this evidence that is consistent with the abiogenesis model (for which there is a lot of compelling evidence) that lends rationality to the panspermia hypothesis consideration (in some measure) as likely accurate, likely reflective, likely descriptive of reality. It’s not a vacuous belief like POOF!ism at all, so I think the comparison you’re trying to make fails.

            *A meteorite blasted off from the surface Mars about 15 million years ago was found in Antarctica in 1984 by a team of scientists on an annual United States government mission to search for meteors. The meteor was named Allan Hills 84001 (ALH84001). In 1996 ALH84001 was shown to contain structures that may be the remains of terrestrial nanobacteria.

            **On May 11, 2001, Geologist Bruno D’Argenio and molecular biologist Giuseppe Geraci from the University of Naples announced the finding of extraterrestrial bacteria inside a meteorite estimated to be over 4.5 billion years old. The researchers claimed that the bacteria, wedged inside the crystal structure of minerals, had been resurrected in a culture medium. They asserted that the bacteria had DNA unlike any on Earth and had survived when the meteorite sample was sterilized at high temperature and washed with alcohol. The bacteria were determined to be related to modern day Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus pumilus bacteria, but appear to be a different strain.

            (Source)

          • Another swing and a miss on my part. I was afraid of this result when I chose to use this example. I do mean the versions of panspermia which stand as alternatives to abiogenesis (eternal aliens, supernatural creatures, etc.). More to the point, I have to ask what you mean when you say ‘evidence’? It seems to be one thing when you demand it from others (something which corresponds with experience) and another when you cite it in support of your own ideas (something which correlates with your explanations of experience). Abiogenesis does not correspond with our experience, since we have not observed it. It does correlate (O.A.D. def. – to connect systematically) with our biological theories.
            What I am getting at is that, if you accept certain metaphysical commitments, the O.A. does have the sort of systematic connection to those commitments which abiogenesis has to biological theory. Furthermore, the metaphysical commitments in question – ones regarding identity, essence, and idealism – are not ones which can be definitively proven or rejected on the basis of any correspondence-type evidence.
            This is finally an argument within metaphysics. If you and John want to argue that metaphysics is crap, that’s a different discussion (though it is systematically connected :)). I’m guessing that is the source of misunderstanding? Or maybe my communication skills are just inadequate. To clarify: I don’t reject the O.A. because it is irrational, but because it relies on premises which go too far. The dispute over the rationality of the argument is to be distinguished from the dispute over the merits of the premises. That’s all.

          • I don’t mean to talk past you here; I mean to suggest that certain assumptions you make could be the source of the disagreements.

            For example, you assume evidence means experience (“something which corresponds with experience”) and then build on that to then suggest that I hold two standards (“something which correlates with your explanations of experience). We need to first back up to the first claim because it is the foundation on which the second claim is then built before we can back to comparing and contrasting the OA as an equivalent model (having no evidence) than that which informs abiogenesis (having much evidence).

            You’ll note that I use the phrase ‘lines of evidence’. This should have alerted you that what I’m describing is a series of what constitutes ‘evidence’ and it doesn’t make sense to substitute your understanding here, namely a series of ‘experiences’ to make up these multiple lines. So what is it I’m talking about?

            What I’m talking about is stuff in reality that is tested against the model to see if it fits. This stuff in reality (nondescript conditions and states that simply are) could be anything that pertains to the explanatory model under consideration and not simply our experiences of it. I’ve never ‘experienced’ DNA but because applications, therapies, and technologies based on this understanding seems to work for everyone everywhere all the time I think these conditions are a pretty good indication that the model deserves confidence. When we put this model – what we call our understanding of genetics – into a retrograde model (that what exists now came from what existed previously) we can adduce that this causal chain continues backwards into deep time and then test to see if this holds true.

            When use the model of what we understand to be ancient life – paleontology – does stuff in reality – evidence – ‘fit’ with our understanding of genetics? The answer is yes. We find what we would expect to find if the genetics model were true taken back into time.

            These are two ‘lines of evidence’ – genetics and paleontology – that indicate the model for abiogenesis is worthy of more study… not because we want to believe it’s true but because of how various lines of evidence suggest it may be an accurate explanatory model of how life on earth came to be.

            When we compare and contrast the explanatory model for POOF!ism – for that is what the OA argument is, a creationist model – then we have to ask ourselves do these lines of evidence match supporting the two models? This is a requirement if the models are indeed compatible.

            The answer is clearly ‘No’.

            We should not expect to find all the evidential links to change over deep time that we do. We should find (in our biological component – the biological line of evidence – of the inquiry) distinct ‘kinds’ unrelated to each other. We don’t. We should find evidence of a starting point for each kind. We don’t. It’s an open-ended heritability that supports less genetic complexity (to the surviving species we can accurately test) the farther back in time we go. This is a significant problem for the OA because it fails to account for this deep time heritability.

            The same lines of evidence need to ‘fit’ the creationist model if we are to grant it equivalency… but it doesn’t. In fact, there are no lines of evidence adduced from reality that support it! This should matter to those who honestly seek explanations that work. In fact, all lines of evidence adduced from reality are contrary to the OA model. So why doesn’t this absence of complimentary lines of evidence matter to supporters of the OA?

            The short answer is that reality isn’t allowed to be the arbitrator of claims made about it by those glamored by the neatness of the metaphysical model! The beauty of the logical form is enough for these folk to presume it must be true… and reality be damned (literally so, by many creationists).

            This is huge red flag for those who think what’s true in reality matters for claims made about it.

            The only support for the OA does not come from reality, which is where the evidence must come if it is to be treated as equivalent. It comes only from an axiomatic framework of thought deduced from premises that are at best populated by nebulous and ineffable terms. That’s it. That’s the sum total of ‘evidence’ used to support confidence in the OA. This is not equivalent to what informs the confidence of modeled explanations about reality but incompatible to them.

            What’s even harder to appreciate for those who wish to believe the OA offers us insight into reality is that no lines of evidence from reality supports it. And this makes the OA divorced from the same reality we rely on to gather our evidence to inform all our other explanatory models of it. And that means the OA is not comparable but incompatible with the reality it purports to describe. There simply is no equivalency.

          • Well, we’re all stuck with an axiomatic framework of thought to a certain extent, aren’t we? Isn’t that the root issue, or isn’t it? It does sound like you want to say that metaphysics is crap. If that’s so, why bother with all this scatology?

          • You like to wander away from the topic, don’t you? By suggesting that “we’re all stuck with an axiomatic framework of thought to a certain extent is an excuse to avoid the criticism I have raised. It addresses nothing I said about why belief in abiogenesis is not without evidence. There’s lots of evidence for the model.

            The correct comparison is that the OA is entirely a product of an axiomatic framework that is unrelated in any way, shape, or form from the reality it purports to describe. Abiogenesis is significantly different in that it is adduced from reality. You seem either unwilling or unable to recognize why this matters to your claim of equivalency.

            The fact of the matter is that an artificial axiomatic framework of thinking (meaning the premises used are not taken from reality but imposed on it as IF they were true. That’s why the premises are exempt from reality’s arbitration of them as Prayson keeps demonstrating. What supporters of the OA continue to fail to produce is any way to demonstrate that the premises describe reality accurately first. That means the method itself and any conclusions so deduced using it is simply not worthy of our confidence because it is not equivalently demonstrable. This lack of testability, of usefulness, of explanatory value related to reality informs my opinion why the metaphysical framework built on axioms divorced from reality’s arbitration of them is not just worthless when it comes to its explanatory power about reality but can easily mislead us into granting confidence where it is not deserved. And that’s why people grant the OA any legitimacy whatsoever: because they make the mistake of thinking the method works to produce knowledge. It doesn’t.

            So prove to me that there is an equivalency I have managed to miss. Please demonstrate a single bit of explanatory knowledge ever ‘discovered’ or ‘produced’ by using such a metaphysical framework. I have yet to encounter even one, and I’ve requested this for years from hundreds of theologically literate people who support the OA. Yet here you presume that such a metaphysical framework is not just an avenue to gaining knowledge about the universe equivalent but an equivalent one… seemingly based on your decision to hold science to a different standard of evidence that requires definitiveness versus the metaphysical vagaries that inform the nebulous and ineffable terminology.

            You wouldn’t claim equivalency from mechanics who used these different approaches (or your car would never get fixed from the metaphysically sophisticated mechanics) but you will allow it for what? Religious accommodation? To support faitheism? To make the irrational and unproductive seem to be reasonable when it’s not?

      • OK, but in your explanation of point 4 I’m not seeing how God went to being Necessary.

      • Thanks, Josh. I was reading through to see who had stopped where I stopped, at #4.

        Prayson, your answer to #4 is delving into quantum philosophy, I think. 😉 Luckily, I love the theory of quantum superposition based on quantum mechanics, and therefore, am happy to subscribe to the belief that there are multiple simultaneous possibilities existing at once. Still, the argument doesn’t feel strong to me.

        The way I understand it, necessary existence enters when one agrees that a God could exist. “Could” being the operative word. “Possible” is the word used in #4, and still just as uncertain. If one embraces quantum superposition, then God absolutely exists and absolutely does not exist simultaneously. You are suggesting I accept both as true and pick one, for argument’s sake. So let’s pick “God exists.”

        You say, “If x possess necessary existence, then x exists in all possible states of affairs.” But your argument seems to break down again (for me) at the same exact place. Just because God could exist in one possibility, in all its wonder, does not so easily translate to every possibility. I can see what you’re thinking: If even one is true, then God is proven to be the inconceivably amazing deity He is, and therefore can intentionally enter all the other possibilities. But that’s not how I conceive of quantum theory.

        • Thanks Crystal. Sorry for a late reply. I must have missed your comment.

          If God(greatest conceivable being) could exist in one possibility, then God must exists in all possibilities. The reason that is true is that we can conceive of a greater than greatest conceivable beings that exists in all possible worlds. This raises the absurdity Anslem attempted to show.

          Think of it this way. Think of 9 possible worlds. John has 100 billion USD in every even number world W(2n)<10 while Jane has the same amount in every possible world Wn<10. Jane appears greater than John because no matter which world <10 would be actualized, Jane, unlike John, will have that amount of money.

          • Please stop conflating words. You’re conflating the word “could” again.

            We would colloquially say that the Goldbach conjecture could be true, since we don’t know if it is or not. But that doesn’t mean that there’s a possible universe in which it is true.

            So with your definition of “could”, it might not be true that the Goldbach conjecture could be true.

            You’re basically trying to trick the reader by conflating terminology. It’s a dishonest rhetoric tactic.

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