The Religious Significance of the Ontological Argument: PHILIP E.DEVINE

Religious Studies 11 (1):97-116 (1975)

Abstract

It seems clear that the ontological argument can no longer be dismissed as a silly fallacy. The dogma of the impossibility of necessary existence is seriously threatened by the case of necessary existential truths in mathematics, and as for the claim that the ontological argument must beg the question, since by mentioning God in the premise his existence is presupposed, it is undermined by the fact that we often refer to things—Hamlet for instance— we do not for a moment think exist. The doctrine that existence is not a property , insofar as it does not reduce to one of the foregoing points, is very murky, for the sense in which ‘red’ is a predicate and ‘exists’ is not has never been clearly defined. Moreover, the way many believers hold that ‘God exists’ is immune to empirical refutation strongly suggests that we are dealing here with an analytic statement, which is just what the ontological argument should be expected to produce. It seems in order, then, to conduct theological discussion under the supposition that the argument is in fact sound

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Philip Devine
Providence College

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