Argument from degree

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(The argument from goodness)
Line 17: Line 17:
  
  
== Arguemnt from degree- evil- against the existence of God ==
+
== Argument from degree- evil- against the existence of God ==
  
 
Among beings there are some more and some less evil,wicked and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is something worst, something most wicked and, consequently, something which is uttermost being. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, evil, and every other ultimate imperfection; and this we call God.
 
Among beings there are some more and some less evil,wicked and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is something worst, something most wicked and, consequently, something which is uttermost being. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, evil, and every other ultimate imperfection; and this we call God.

Revision as of 10:18, 12 February 2010

As formulated by Thomas Aquinas, the argument from degree is stated as follows:

"We notice that things in the world differ. There are degrees of, say, goodness or perfection. But we judge these degrees only by comparison with a maximum. Humans can be both good and bad, so the maximum goodness cannot rest in us. Therefore there must be some other maximum to set the standard for perfection, and we call that maximum God."

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 2006, pp, 78-79, excerpted in Why There Is No God, The Times, Oct. 31, 2006

Contents

Counter-apologetics

Dawkins replies:

"That's an argument? You might as well say, people vary in smelliness but we can make the comparison only by reference to a perfect maximum of conceivable smelliness. Therefore there must exist a pre-eminently peerless stinker, and we call him God. Or substitute any dimension of comparison you like, and derive an equally fatuous conclusion."

— Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, 2006, p. 79

The argument from goodness

The argument from goodness is a special case of the argument from degree. In his Summa Theologica, Aquinas writes:

"The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God."

— Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, question 1, article 3, objection 2

By saying, "as fire, which is the maximum heat", Aquinas scuttles his own argument: fusion reactions, which power stars (including the sun) are much hotter than fire. Aquinas, of course, did not know this, and therefore could not have based his idea of heat on the "maximum heat". Yet we do not doubt that he understood what "heat" means.

Likewise, we can know what "goodness" and "perfection" (in Aquinas's sense) mean by comparing people and actions to each other, and not to some superlative standard of goodness and perfection.

Secondly, a perfect standard can be useful without having concrete existence. For instance, we can mathematically define a perfect circle and use that as the standard for roundness. However, it is impossible to draw a perfect circle, and thus a perfect circle cannot exist. Similarly, the fact that we can imagine a perfectly good being in no way implies that that being actually exists.


Argument from degree- evil- against the existence of God

Among beings there are some more and some less evil,wicked and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is something worst, something most wicked and, consequently, something which is uttermost being. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, evil, and every other ultimate imperfection; and this we call God.

See also


v · d Arguments for the existence of god
Anthropic arguments   Anthropic principle · Natural-law argument
Arguments for belief   Pascal's Wager · Argument from faith · Just hit your knees
Christological arguments   Argument from scriptural miracles · Would someone die for a lie? · Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Cosmological arguments   Argument from contingency · Cosmological argument · Fine-tuning argument · Kalam · Unmoved mover · Why is there something rather than nothing?
Majority arguments   Majority argument · Argument from admired religious scientists
Moral arguments   Argument from justice · Divine command theory
Ontological argument   Argument from degree · Argument from goodness · Argument from desire
Dogmatic arguments   Argument from divine sense · Sensus divinitatis · Argument from uniqueness
Teleological arguments   Argument from design · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Laminin argument · Argument from natural disasters
Testimonial arguments   Personal revelation · Argument from observed miracles · Argument from personal experience · Consciousness argument for the existence of God · Emotional pleas
Transcendental arguments   God created numbers
Scriptural arguments   Scriptural inerrancy · Scriptural scientific foreknowledge · Scriptural codes
Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
wiki navigation
IronChariots.Org
Toolbox