Ontological argument

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{{Arguments For the Existence of God}}
Ontology is the branch of [[metaphysics]] that deals with the nature of being.
Ontology is the branch of [[metaphysics]] that deals with the nature of being.

Revision as of 22:34, 31 August 2009

Arguments For the Existence of God
Anthropic Arguments:
Arguments For Belief:
Christological Arguments:
Cosmological Arguments:
Majority Arguments:
Moral Arguments:
Ontological Arguments:
Reformed Epistemology:
Teleological Arguments:
Testimonial Arguments:
Transcendental arguments:

Ontology is the branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being.

The classic ontological argument for the existence of God runs as follows:

  1. God is the greatest imaginable being.
  2. All else being equal, a being or entity that exists is greater than one that doesn't.
  3. Therefore, God exists.


In this argument, existence is given as one of God's attributes as part of the definition: if X is God, then X has the property of existence. This is logically equivalent to "if X does not exist, then X is not God." It does not prove that there are any entities that actually match the definition.

Existence can hardly ever be considered an attribute, as something nonexistent cannot have attributes. Therefore, making conclusions about existence of an entity based on its properties is not logically sound. In short, this argument boils down to "show me a god, and I'll show you an existing god." It is a form of circular reasoning because the existence is built into the assumptions.

Here are some examples of this proof that highlight the fallacy.


  1. Let us define a unicorn as a magical equine being that has one horn, and that exists.
  2. By the above definition, such a being must necessarily exist.
  3. Therefore unicorns exist.


  1. Shangri-La is the greatest place on earth.
  2. A place that exists is greater than one that doesn't.
  3. Therefore, Shangri-La exists.


  1. Hercules is the greatest warrior in history.
  2. A warrior that existed is greater than one that did not.
  3. Therefore, Hercules existed.

Gasking's Proof

A piece of parody, Gasking's Proof for the Non-existence of god is as follows:

  1. The creation of the universe is the greatest achievement imaginable.
  2. The merit of an achievement consists of its intrinsic greatness and the ability of its creator.
  3. The greater the handicap to the creator, the greater the achievement (would you be more impressed by Turner painting a beautiful landscape or a blind one-armed dwarf?)
  4. The biggest handicap to a creator would be non-existence
  5. Therefore if we suppose that the universe is the creation of an existing creator, we can conceive a greater being — namely, one who created everything while not existing.
  6. Therefore, God does not exist.

Rejection of the Second Premise

Assuming that existence and non-existence can actually be properties of something, there is no logical justification for existence being greater than non-existence

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