The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Hugh_Jidiette
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The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Hugh_Jidiette » January 6th, 2021, 11:15 am

1. Omni-benevolence entails permitting the most perfect world possible to obtain.
2. Necessarily, if God is omni-benevolent, God will permit the most perfect world possible to obtain
3. The most perfect world is one with no imperfections, to which its perfection could not be increased.
4. God is perfect- and necessarily omni-benevolent & omnipotent
5. Therefore a world where God alone exists is perfect by definition, since nothing can increase or add to its perfection.
6. The world where God alone exists is a possible world.
7. Therefore God would necessarily permit a world where he alone exists to obtain.
8. A world where God exists alone does not obtain.
9. Therefore God does not exist


1- follows from a definition of omni-benevolence. It does not necessarily by itself entail a perfect world. Theists tend to say 'possible' entails only what is logically possible- so maybe God can't logically eliminate all suffering/evil/imperfection in order to achieve some higher Good/perfection, if that good/perfection is achieved then God in permitting it is not acting contra his omni-benevolence.


2- Follows if the most perfect possible world is something God can actually bring about. Given his omnipotnece entails bringing about all logically possible worlds, the only question is- is the world sans creation possible? Yes (most theists think it actually obtained prior to creation).

3- I think this is pretty trivially true. A world lacking imperfections is presumably perfect. One could argue an empty world lacks imperfections, but is not perfect. But non existence is assumed to be an imperfection, so that doesn't follow.


4&5- God being perfect seems definitional to God. He is that which nothing greater than can be conceived, devoid of deficiency, possessing all the perfections. A world where God exists is by definition devoid of imperfections. Added to this, nothing permitted by God could add to its perfection- it could only ever add gratuitous imperfections. God could not justify that permittance by claiming to achieve some higher good or perfection, since by definition there could be none without suggesting a lack of perfection in the world prior to his permittance, which is to say that God alone is lacking a perfection, which entails he is imperfect, which is a contradiction.


6- Again, it is clearly possible for God to permit a possible world where he alone exists. Many theists believe he did just this prior to creation. To suggest otherwise seems to suggest either such a world is logically impossible, or God is not omnipotent. The latter is clearly impossible for God, the former is clearly wrong.


7- This follows from the above premises. Essentially, what God's omnipotence/omni-benevolence entail is that God would only permit a world where he alone exists. Perhaps you want to appeal to his freedom- but that would only be a freedom to permit gratuitous suffering. Whilst God may have that power, he would no more exercise it than he would commit an act of wanton evil, or an unjustifiable lie. Perhaps the response will be that in creating a world with free agents God is adding some value that did not already exist. But this commits you to the view that a perfect world can be lacking a value- that would of course be an imperfection. Or that God existing alone is not a perfect world. Given God is co-extensive with that world (as it contains nothing else) this implies God is not perfect, which runs into similar problems.


8- is obvious given we are having this conversation.


9- this follows because God has clearly failed to permit a world where he alone exists to obtain. Given God can not fail in this and given God's omni-benevolence entails this is what he would do, we can conclude that no perfect being with the attributes of omnipotence/omni-benevolence could possibly exist and the world exists. Given the world exists, then it is impossible for such a being to exist. These attributes are essential to God, therefore God can not exist.

The necessity here is one of logical entailment, such that to deny it would lead to a contradiction.

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Ecurb » January 6th, 2021, 4:07 pm

Who is more "benevolent", the person who loves only those who merit his love through their own perfection, or the person who loves those who are sinners and do not merit his love?

Perhaps "omni-benevolence" involves the logical necessity of imperfection, because benevolence itself is enhanced by loving those who do not deserve it. In that case, the "perfect world" (or, at least, the best of all possible worlds) would of necessity involve imperfections. This is true not only of love, but of other virtues, such as courage, which necessarily involves danger and suffering. Is a world without courage necessarily superior to one in which courage exists? Given this, your postulate #3 does not necessarily obtain.

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Terrapin Station » January 6th, 2021, 4:24 pm

Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 11:15 am
1. Omni-benevolence entails permitting the most perfect world possible to obtain.
Presumably we'd be appealing to a notion of what "perfection" is that isn't subjective.

What would that notion be?

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by baker » January 6th, 2021, 5:21 pm

Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 11:15 am
The aloneness argument against classical Theism
No no no. No arguments.

Classical monotheism is a revealed religion: God is said to reveal himself to people; people do not discover God.

It is not possible to prove or disprove (!) classical monotheism with empirical evidence or analytical arguments. Evidence and arguments do not apply to classical monotheism.

In classical monotheism, one either believes, takes for granted, that God exists (and has revealed some particular religion), or one doesn't. This is all there is to it. Everything else is moot.

IOW, when philosophers are trying to present proof for or against God, they are doing so about a god that no actual theist has ever believed in.
IOW, when philosophers are trying to present proof for or against God, they are doing so about a creation of their own imagination. Thus, they might as well desist.

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Hugh_Jidiette » January 7th, 2021, 3:33 am

Ecurb wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 4:07 pm
Who is more "benevolent", the person who loves only those who merit his love through their own perfection, or the person who loves those who are sinners and do not merit his love?

Perhaps "omni-benevolence" involves the logical necessity of imperfection, because benevolence itself is enhanced by loving those who do not deserve it. In that case, the "perfect world" (or, at least, the best of all possible worlds) would of necessity involve imperfections. This is true not only of love, but of other virtues, such as courage, which necessarily involves danger and suffering. Is a world without courage necessarily superior to one in which courage exists? Given this, your postulate #3 does not necessarily obtain.
Your response misses the point. This argument is against the God of classical Theism, not skeptical Theism, or open Theism.

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Hugh_Jidiette » January 7th, 2021, 3:49 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 4:24 pm
Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 11:15 am
1. Omni-benevolence entails permitting the most perfect world possible to obtain.
Presumably we'd be appealing to a notion of what "perfection" is that isn't subjective.

What would that notion be?
It's an internal critique. An internal critique assumes the truth (which entails all definitions by the proponent of the view be granted) of some premise or worldview in order to examine what would be the case if it were true. This is most often expressed as a type of reductio ad absurdum. Therefore, my view is irrelevant.

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Hugh_Jidiette » January 7th, 2021, 3:52 am

baker wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 5:21 pm
Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 11:15 am
The aloneness argument against classical Theism
No no no. No arguments.

Classical monotheism is a revealed religion: God is said to reveal himself to people; people do not discover God.

It is not possible to prove or disprove (!) classical monotheism with empirical evidence or analytical arguments. Evidence and arguments do not apply to classical monotheism.

In classical monotheism, one either believes, takes for granted, that God exists (and has revealed some particular religion), or one doesn't. This is all there is to it. Everything else is moot.

IOW, when philosophers are trying to present proof for or against God, they are doing so about a god that no actual theist has ever believed in.
IOW, when philosophers are trying to present proof for or against God, they are doing so about a creation of their own imagination. Thus, they might as well desist.
Decisive? Almost nothing in philosophy is my friend. This is a tool for greater understanding and exploration.

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by baker » January 7th, 2021, 6:30 am

Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 7th, 2021, 3:52 am
baker wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 5:21 pm
IOW, when philosophers are trying to present proof for or against God, they are doing so about a god that no actual theist has ever believed in.
IOW, when philosophers are trying to present proof for or against God, they are doing so about a creation of their own imagination.
Thus, they might as well desist.
Decisive? Almost nothing in philosophy is my friend. This is a tool for greater understanding and exploration.
desist
/dɪˈzɪst,dɪˈsɪst/
verb
stop doing something; cease or abstain.

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Terrapin Station » January 7th, 2021, 9:12 am

Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 7th, 2021, 3:49 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 4:24 pm

Presumably we'd be appealing to a notion of what "perfection" is that isn't subjective.

What would that notion be?
It's an internal critique. An internal critique assumes the truth (which entails all definitions by the proponent of the view be granted) of some premise or worldview in order to examine what would be the case if it were true. This is most often expressed as a type of reductio ad absurdum. Therefore, my view is irrelevant.
Are you claiming that your analysis is identical to if we'd do a formal analysis of the argument, where we substitute variables for terms? Otherwise, if you're engaging at all with the terms on a semantic level, the definition we're assigning to a term matters.

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by baker » January 7th, 2021, 9:19 am

Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 7th, 2021, 3:49 am
It's an internal critique. An internal critique assumes the truth (which entails all definitions by the proponent of the view be granted) of some premise or worldview in order to examine what would be the case if it were true. This is most often expressed as a type of reductio ad absurdum.
Sure. But you're not doing that to any actual monotheism (ie. like the one put forward by Roman Catholicism etc.). You're doing it to a monotheism of your own making.
What's the point in that?

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Hugh_Jidiette » January 8th, 2021, 3:44 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
January 7th, 2021, 9:12 am
Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 7th, 2021, 3:49 am


It's an internal critique. An internal critique assumes the truth (which entails all definitions by the proponent of the view be granted) of some premise or worldview in order to examine what would be the case if it were true. This is most often expressed as a type of reductio ad absurdum. Therefore, my view is irrelevant.
Are you claiming that your analysis is identical to if we'd do a formal analysis of the argument, where we substitute variables for terms? Otherwise, if you're engaging at all with the terms on a semantic level, the definition we're assigning to a term matters.
I never said terms do not matter. I said my view is irrelevant whilst rendering an internal critique.
Again, an internal critique assumes the truth of a worldview in order to examine what would be the case if it were true. It is a type of reductio ad absurdum to show that given the premises, the conclusion leads to a contradiction. In short, one brackets their presuppositions, terms, etc. (for the sake of arguendo) & assumes the truth of their interlocutors view, which includes granting their terms. Nothing I'm saying here is controversial or incoherent. For instance, a Theist can pose my argument to a fellow Theist. At any rate, this seems like a red herring.

Albeit the literature on the God of classical Theism is superabundant, here's a brief summary since I can't post links:

"Classical theism refers to the form of theism in which God is characterized as the absolutely metaphysically ultimate being, in contrast to other conceptions such as Theistic Personalism, Open Theism and Process Theism. Whereas most theists agree that God is, at a minimum, all-knowing, all-powerful, and completely good, classical theists go farther and conceive of God as the ultimate reality, with a broad set of attributes including transcendence, simplicity, immutability, impassibility, timelessness, and incorporeality. Classical theism is, historically, the mainstream view in philosophy and is associated with the tradition of writers like Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, St. Anselm, Maimonides, Averroes and Thomas Aquinas. In opposition to this tradition, there are, today, philosophers like Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne and William Lane Craig, who can be viewed as theistic personalists. Since classical theistic ideas are influenced by Greek philosophy and focus on God in the abstract and metaphysical sense, they can be difficult to reconcile with the "near, caring, and compassionate" view of God presented in the religious texts of the main monotheistic religions, particularly the Bible."

Given that, which premise would/do you reject and why?

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Terrapin Station » January 8th, 2021, 11:27 am

Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 8th, 2021, 3:44 am
I never said terms do not matter. I said my view is irrelevant whilst rendering an internal critique.
Again, an internal critique assumes the truth of a worldview in order to examine what would be the case if it were true.
You're not answering what I'm asking you.

Either

(a) you're saying that we could just replace "perfect" (and "perfection" etc.) with "x" in your analysis and it would work the same,

or

(b) just what "perfect" amounts to semantically in the analysis matters.

If (a) then I'll look at it again and see if it actually works if we simply replace that term with "x."

If (b), then how would we characterize a non-subjective sense of what "perfect" is supposed to amount to? (Non-subjective, because if it's subjective instead--as perfect is on my view--then anything could count as perfect.)

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Atla » January 8th, 2021, 11:39 am

Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 11:15 am
8. A world where God exists alone does not obtain.

8- is obvious given we are having this conversation.
Can't there be two worlds?

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by LoverofWisdom » January 8th, 2021, 9:58 pm

1. Omni-benevolence entails permitting the most perfect world possible to obtain./quote]
Does not omni-benevolence also entail creating a world that entails libertarian free will. So that those who exist in that world, are not by nature slaves or puppets? If in that perfect world, the free will agents chose to use their gift of free will to do that which is evil thus bringing about imperfection to a previously perfect order? Does not benevolence omni or conditional allow for pain in order to shape character. For instance as a parent, disciplining a child who steals, by the use of spanking, is painful, but in the long run molds their character to not be a thief? Your entire argument fails, because you have not defined omnibenevolence in its fullest definition.

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Re: The aloneness argument against classical Theism

Post by Count Lucanor » January 9th, 2021, 3:16 pm

Hugh_Jidiette wrote:
January 6th, 2021, 11:15 am
1. Omni-benevolence entails permitting the most perfect world possible to obtain.
2. Necessarily, if God is omni-benevolent, God will permit the most perfect world possible to obtain
3. The most perfect world is one with no imperfections, to which its perfection could not be increased.
4. God is perfect- and necessarily omni-benevolent & omnipotent
5. Therefore a world where God alone exists is perfect by definition, since nothing can increase or add to its perfection.
6. The world where God alone exists is a possible world.
7. Therefore God would necessarily permit a world where he alone exists to obtain.
8. A world where God exists alone does not obtain.
9. Therefore God does not exist
A perfect being with omni-benevolence by essence is also required to be omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Implied in all of this is also the attribute of being a person, an agent with volition, thoughts, feelings, etc. But all these essential attributes can never work together, they contradict each other. No such divine person could exist.

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