Alvin Plantinga, a philosopher whom I often hear only from more famous names such as Lee Strobel and William Lane Craig has been vital in forming what to me is the cornerstone of all other conception of God.

True, the Ontological Argument is a millennium old approach to argue for God’s existence.  Yet in Plantinga, not only had he framed the Ontological Argument as a serious contender in the God debate, I think he in fact, nailed the coffin once and for all to doubt the existence of God.  Even more interestingly, his version of the Ontological Argument allows us to properly grasp the concept of God without violating His attributes.

As a software engineer, our entire profession revolves around logic.  We go to work and leave work wrestling with logic all the time.  We do not care about slogans.  We do not care about idealism.  Those stuff are rubbish in our profession.  In programming, your job right is to build a coherent set of logic in your apps.  If your logic stinks, you’re out of the job.  In programming, the “BUT IT WORKS FOR ME” is never a valid excuse… and that’s the same thing in reality.  Just because a belief works for you doesn’t mean it’s true.

Everyone WANTS their conception of God to be the genuine God.  But in reality, the proper search for who God is is not to pit one religion against other.  We tried for centuries and failed.  It is rather to sit down, identify the character that makes God God, and see which among the belief systems makes most sense out of it.

Understand that you don’t even need a religion to know that God exists.  The existence of religion does not inspire the creation of God.  Rather the existence of God inspires the creation of religion.  Logic thus, is enough to arrive at the existence of a genuine God… and the Ontological Argument is the heart and soul of it.

Plantinga’s Ontological Argument goes like this:

  1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
  2. If (1), it is possible that a maximally great being exists in some possible worlds.
  3. If (2), it is possible that a maximally great being exists in all possible worlds.
  4. If (3), it is possible that a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
  5. If (4), therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.
  6. If (5), therefore, a maximally great being exists.

By possible world he means a possible description of reality.  For example, there is a possible world where Hillary Clinton would be the president of the United States.  Or there is a possible world where Windows Phones are more popular than Android Phones.  But there is no possible world where there could be a married bachelor, or a square circle.

By maximally great being, he means a being that represents maximal greatness.  Goodness, power, and wisdom are all great-making properties.  A wise being is greater than a dumb being.  A good being is greater than a bad being.  The existence of a maximally great being is greater than its non-existence.  Thus, if you really think about it, there’s no escaping the Ontological Argument.  The possibility of the existence of a maximally great being in at least a certain possible world is coherent.  Yet if he exists in one, he has to exist in all!  Therefore, God has to exist.  There’s no way around it!

Now, why is this important? Because once a person begins to grasp maximal greatness, he SHOULD begin to understand that maximal greatness does not entail one attribute overstepping the other.  God cannot be so powerful that he can violate his own maximal goodness.  For example, God cannot be so powerful that he can force a person to blaspheme the Holy Spirit and throw him to hell as a punishment for it.  It is not that God has the capacity to do evil but chooses not to, but rather in the very nature of God’s greatness, He doesn’t even have the capacity to do it.  Why? Because having the capacity to do evil is less great than having no capacity to do evil.  This is common sense.  Imagine a world where human beings have no capacity to do evil.  That would be greater than a world where there is a capacity for man to do evil.  Now we’re not discussing whether a perfect God should create a perfect physical universe. All we’re trying to illustrate here is that Plantinga’s conception of God is the best thus far.

Now you see where I am going here.  The God referred to by the Ontological Argument helps us arrive at a legitimate conception of God where none of the great religions of the world have been able to find except Christianity.  Until we understand Plantinga’s Ontological Argument, we risk conceptualizing God as an inferior deity unworthy of worship… and when we do, we create God in the image of man.

 

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