The Ontological Argument is another one of those arguments I have a love/hate relationship with. More love these days than hate, but still. In this interview with Dr. Ben Arbour (more on him below), we discuss the structure of the argument, how it works, and many of the most popular objections to the Ontological Argument.
The Ontological Argument is actually simpler than it sounds. It says basically that if it’s even possible that God exists, then God must exist. It might surprise you to learn that the step from possibility to actuality is relatively non-controversial. That’s because God is by definition a necessary being. That is to say, if God exists, then He exists in every possible world (including the actual one). The real question is whether it’s actually possible that God exists. That question and more are discussed in the interview.
Ben holds a Ph.D from the University of Bristol, and he is an adjunct professor at Weatherford College. His philosophical research focuses on the intersection of analytic metaphysics (especially systematics and the nature of time) and Christian theology, particularly as these relate to Anselmian understandings of the doctrine of God.
Ben is also just a swell guy. His love for the Lord is contagious. The same could be said about his philosophy. I think that comes through in the interview (especially toward the end). Discussions with him have been mind expanding. Really excited to see where he goes with his research interests!
Here are a couple of my favorite portraits from our short session after the interview. His personality really comes through on the last one. That grin!
The interview runs a total of 40 minutes. While I had a few questions prepared, the conversation was pretty free-flowing. My favorite part came at around the 17 minute mark. That’s where I asked him about Reverse Ontological Arguments. He gave two responses; the second was some of his own work on the subject. Really good stuff!
Once again, big shoutout to Raleigh and his wife for filming and editing this interview (as well as putting up with my directives). I plan on turning it into a podcast episode, so if you prefer to listen that way, be on the lookout. Special thanks to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary – Houston for allowing us to use their facilities for the interview.
Loved the interview even if there were times where Dr Arbour hand waived himself passed some of your questions – in particular his first response/objection to the the reverse MOA. It didn’t make any sense to me… however, the second response was great! Now, to my question (somewhat related to S5), and something I still find hard to resonate with: If there is a maximally great being (MGB) in some possible world, I don’t see why that MGB must be possible in ALL worlds…? I do understand the reasoning behind the conclusion (that if MGM is not present in world… Read more »
We know that a necessary being can’t exist. So the first premise of the modal ontological argument is false. It isn’t possible for a maximally great being to exist. Modal logic only requires logical consistency. And the phrase God does not exist is not self contradictory since you can’t define something into existence by just claiming that god is defined as existing, so therefore exists. All you can do is say IF he exists necessarily, but we already know he can’t exist necessarily. It is also baked right into the first premise, IF god exists… which by its… Read more »
Although I disagree with Darren’s objections, I have a concern of my own. Isn’t this argument just an appeal to ignorance?
I’ve been a pretty hardcore atheist/skeptic/physicalist type since I was twelve, but about ten years ago when I was 35 or so, I had an epiphany about conscious experience. Don’t know why I didn’t see it before, but suddenly out of the blue, I realized that there really is a seemingly inexplicable (under physicalism) explanatory gap. Anyway, this realization has really softened my views about things like souls and God. I remember learning about the Ontological Argument in college and thinking it was an absolute joke. But not long ago, some philosopher (can’t remember who it was) on Closer to… Read more »