Friday, February 02, 2007

Ignite

Ignite is a website community for (seemingly) intellectually "aware" and concerned young Christians. Though I'm no Christian, I can't help but support such an endeavor. They even have a section on helping people across the globe! As if Jesus would be concerned for everyone regardless of nationality, race, gender, religion and sexual preference. How un-American. I ran across it through a link from Andrew Sullivan to a philosophy post on God. Sad to say, I don't understand the post. I'm tempted to think that the poster is performing the typical approach of theologians: assuming the existence of God rather than arguing for his existence. He doesn't even argue for how God can exist at these different levels and really why these different levels are better except in the sense that they seem to increase faith and a "correct" interpretation of God.

I dunno. It's late and I don't know anything about Anselm beyond his argument for God, which essentially states (from what I remember) that because God is necessarily perfect, and existence is more perfect than nonexistence, God exists. Why is existence "more perfect" than nonexistence? Who knows. It's one of those archaic arguments that seems like nonsense to us modern, empirical people.

Philosophy trickles down to become common sense...

3 comments:

ADHR said...

Existence is more perfect than nonexistence because of the Great Chain of Being. That is, being a human is more perfect than being an animal; being an animal is more perfect than being a plant; etc.

I've always liked Descartes' move a little better than Anselm's. The idea for Descartes is that ideas can only be caused by things that are greater (more real, as per the GCoB) than themselves. Since the idea of God is the greatest idea you can have, it can't have been caused by another idea. And, it's greater than any real thing except God. So, God must exist.

The GCoB is defended on the basis that it is an explanatory hypothesis which makes best sense of all the stuff we see happening around us. As it so happens, it fell to other (more materialistic) hypotheses, which is why the ontological argument and its variants don't seem all that persuasive any more.

undergroundman said...

Ah, thanks. Didn't take Medieval Philosophy.

Existence is more perfect than nonexistence because of the Great Chain of Being. That is, being a human is more perfect than being an animal; being an animal is more perfect than being a plant; etc.

I don't really see how "existence is more perfect than nonexistence" follows from that. All of those things exist regardless of their levels of perfection. I think he took that premise for granted - as if, duh, of course things which exist are "better" than things which don't exist.

The idea for Descartes is that ideas can only be caused by things that are greater (more real, as per the GCoB) than themselves. Since the idea of God is the greatest idea you can have, it can't have been caused by another idea. And, it's greater than any real thing except God. So, God must exist.

The premise that "ideas can only be caused by things that are greater than themselves" seems unsupported. (So does the premise that God is the greatest idea you can have.) I do vaguely remember it from Meditations. I laughed my way through that book.

undergroundman said...

By the way, did you check out that article? Could you make sense of it?