Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Agnostic Deist Converts to Christianity by Means of Ontological Argument: Testimony

This is a guest post of a classmate of mine, Aaron Marshall, who is a Ratio Christi Chapter Director at UNC Wilmington.

This is the testimony from Cornell Anthony who is a Christian.  He became convinced of Theism 
through the Ontological Argument.
I was pretty much an agnostic Deist most of my life until I heard about Dr. Craig and started
listening to his debates on YouTube. I then purchased his book 'Reasonable Faith' and found that
he used Alvin Plantinga's version of the Ontological Argument. Out of all the arguments I found 
the Ontological argument to be the most convincing, because it was a purely a priori argument 
that really got down to metaphysical possibility.

With respect to epistemology I just recently became a rationalist so I started taking a priori 
arguments much more seriously. I feel as if my schooling in NY indoctrinated me into thinking
that science is the only method that gives us knowledge so I was glad to leave scientism and the 
radical empiricism that I grew up with.

The OA made me a fan of modal logic and it didn't just stop there as I started reading other 
versions of the OA from Kurt Godel who had its modern defenders in Alexander Pruss. Pruss 
does an excellent job via logic on showing why a necessary being exists.

I now feel that logic is imperative to have when speaking of gaining knowledge. In fact it 
is virtually inescapable to come to any conclusion without the use of logic, especially the 
fundamental laws of logic that entail the Law of Non-contraction, Law of Identity and Law of 
excluded middle.

The OA not only made me a Theist who believes that a God necessarily exists, but it made 
me respect a method that I never gave much thought to when I was younger and that is logic. 
I believe I took logic for granted most of my life, and I'm glad that it all came down to God 
pointing out the importance. Natural Theology has been buried in the media as well as academia, 
and now I hope to see it return. The OA is the best argument for God IMO, in fact it is the only 
argument that can argue for God on its own.

What is your response?  Do you think the OA is any good?  Why or why not? 

1 comment:

leibnizianchristian said...

Yes, it was a Modal Ontological Argument that brought me to believing in a personal God, and not too long after I became a practicing Christian who found that the Resurrection argument (Tim Mcgrew and Richard Swinburne's Miracle arguments) as well as philosophical theology provided enough evidence for me to be a committed Christian over the last 3 years.

Brian Leftow, Alexander Pruss, and Robert Maydole make the best cases for their respect versions of the Ontological argument IMO.

I believe that God needs to be defined for EVERY debate between atheists and theists. The OA goes right for the throat as it argues for a necessary being that is defined here by Alexander Pruss.

"A Necessary Being is anything that meets the following two conditions:

1. It is possible that it is a cause of something.

2. It is not possible (at any time) that it does not exist.

I will stipulate one axiom: if there is a Necessary Being, then it is necessary that there is a Necessary Being.

A comment about 'possible'.

I define 'it is possible that such and such' as 'the statement that such and such does not contradict anything that must be so (is necessary)'. Examples of things that (ostensibly) must be so include:

1. Every triangle has three sides.

2. No prime minister is a prime number.

3. Hurting babies solely for fun is bad.

4. Nothing is both true and not true at the same time.

5. If something has size, then it has shape.

And so on...

So something is possible if it doesn't contradict what is necessary.

I take it that 'necessary' is a familiar term whose meaning we learned at our mother's knee. So, I do not define the term further. But others are welcome to define the term in a way that makes sense to them. I only require that your definition allows the following to come out true: if something is the case no matter what possible situation is actual, then that something is necessarily the case. For example, if it's the case that triangles have three sides no matter what possible situation is actual, then it is necessary that triangles have three sides.

Note that the notion of 'necessity' here is objective necessity: that is to say, if something is necessary, then it must, by nature, be so -- no matter what anyone may or may not know. For example, it is necessary that certain axioms entail the Pythagorean Theorem, whether or not I happen to know this."

Keep in mind that Pruss uses a Goedellian version of the Ontological argument.