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Lecture 3

PHIL111 13/14 WEEK 3.docx

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Queen's University
PHIL 111
Jon Miller

Week Three September 24, 2013 Some Topics in Philosophy of Religion - How is god to be conceived? - Does god exist? - What ought god’s relation to political institutions to be? - What ought god’s relation to morality be? Our foci - Arguments for and against the existence of god, conceived in a particular way - Arguments for and against the rationality of belief in god, conceived in a particular way Who is God? - When you think of god, what comes to mind? o An all-knowing being o An unquestionable figure of authority o Creator of all things o Spiritual essence implicit in everything o Moral standard - Philosophers have thought that god is the supremely perfect being o What is the supremely perfect being?  A being with the sum of all perfections • The most important perfections are power, knowledge, and goodness • So god is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent • Does such a god exist? The Ontological Argument - In favour of the existence of such a being o Designed to show that god exists using premises derived from some source other than observation - St. Anselm of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk, born in Italy, who gave up his wealth to devote himself to god. He became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093 and died there in 1109 - Anselm’s strategy is to derive the existence of god from the concept of a being than which no greater can be conceived - See Bailey 22lc-rc Preliminary Comments - Anselm has faith; what he seeks is understanding - He believes god to be “a being than which nothing greater can be conceived” – god is the greatest of all beings; the most perfect being The Ontological Argument (i) - A loose reconstruction of Anselm’s argument 1. Think of a being than which no greater can be conceived 2. If such a being fails to exist, then a greater being- a being than which no greater can be conceived, and which exists- can be conceived 3. But that’s absurd: nothing can be greater than a being than which no greater being can be conceived 4. So a being than which no greater can be conceived must exist - Properties of the Argument o It is an a priori argument: it attempts to prove the existence of god solely on the basis of pure reason, without employing any data derived from the senses o It is a deductive argument: if valid and sound, then the conclusion has been demonstrated as necessarily true o It proves not only that god exists but also that he has certain properties: he is the greatest of all beings The Ontological Argument (ii) 1. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Ps. 14:1) 2. When the fool says this to himself, he takes the meaning of the statement to be that the perfect being does not exist 3. Also, when the fool says this to himself, he understands that what he says exists in his understanding 4. But, surely, that perfect being cannot only exist in the unders
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