Monday, April 28, 2014

God and Possible Worlds

There is often confusion about God and possible worlds. If a being is contingent, it means it exists in at least one possible world. It may perhaps exist in more than world—indeed, in many worlds—but the key is that it will not exist in every possible world. There will be at least one—probably many more—world in which it does not exist. If a being is necessary, then it exists in every possible world. Also, if a being is construed as necessary, then its existence is either impossible to be false or just plain impossible.

This has definite application to God. Of course, if God is contingent, merely showing that he exists in some world or other, or showing that he does not exist in one world, doesn’t really accomplish much (except, of course, if the world under consideration is the actual world!). However, if God is construed as necessary, then showing that he doesn’t exist in some possible world is tantamount to saying that he doesn’t exist at all. This is because something that holds its existence as necessary either exists in every possible world or in no possible world. Lacking existence in one possible world entails not existing in every possible world; therefore, a necessarily existent God who does not exist in one of the possible worlds does not exist in any of them—his existence is impossible. Of course, God’s existence could always be construed as contingent, but not without strong theological cost.


However, it’s also important to note that this means that if God’s existence is even possible (that is, if there is even at least one possible world in which God exists), then he must exist, and his non-existence is impossible. So, if it can be shown that God’s existence is possible, then every possible world is populated by God. So what does this all mean? This means that God’s existence is either necessary or impossible. So the next time an atheist tries to use possible world semantics to show God doesn’t exist (this doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes it does), unless he shows God’s existence is impossible, it simply won’t affect your conclusion!

37 comments:

  1. How is the god of classical theism falsifiable? Or do you argue that it isn't?

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    1. Well, if one were to show an internal incoherence, then that would work.

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    2. Can a being be both omnibenevolent and capable of evil?

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    3. I think it depends. On some interpretations of the question, yes. On others, no.

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    4. Depends on what? In what interpretation can a being be both omnibenevolent and evil? How are you defining those two opposing terms?

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    5. I'm not defining them at all; I didn't ask the question.

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    6. I'm asking you to define "omnibenevolence" and "evil" in such a way to make them mutually compatible that does not also render their definitions incoherent with themselves. You seem to say that it is possible. I'd like to know how.

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    7. That's easy: "omnibenevolence" means "funny" and "evil" means "Steve Carrell."

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    8. Look, if you can't seriously answer my question, just say so.

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    9. I'm not interested in answering questions that are ambiguous. Your original question remains ambiguous. That's it, and that's all.

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    10. There's nothing ambiguous about my original question nor my subsequent ones. You said omnibenevolence can be compatible with evil. I'm just asking you how you can achieve this without redefining the terms in an incoherent way. But this is apparently too complicated.

      I say this cannot be done and have given you the opportunity to prove me wrong.

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    11. I already achieved this, and it was coherent. I still don't know what you mean by the terms, and it really doesn't bother me whether or not you think it can or cannot be done.

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    12. You didn't actually make a coherent argument. And to demonstrate that, I've asked you to define "omnibenevolence" and "evil" in a way such where there wouldn't be any incoherence if a being had both of these properties.

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    13. Where? I've read and critiqued your response to me and I didn't see it anywhere. Could you reprint them here for clarity?

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    14. It's only a few comments up.

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    15. That wasn't an actual answer and you know it.

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    16. It was an actual answer, and you just didn't like it.

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    17. Ok then explain in detail, otherwise it's obvious you don't have an answer.

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    18. That doesn't make any sense. You explain that in detail, otherwise it's obvious you don't have an answer.

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    19. Define omnibenevolence first.

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    20. That's easy: "omnibenevolence" means "funny" and "evil" means "Steve Carrell."

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    21. Cite an online dictionary that uses that same definition.

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    22. The Randy Online Dictionary, precisely two entries so far.

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    23. LOL. You don't have a coherent definition or argument and you know it. Just as I suspected.

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    24. See guys, The Thinker has a track record. As soon as I saw he wasn't going to disambiguate the question, it was all fun from there!

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    25. How is this in any sense of the word ambiguous?

      "Define omnibenevolence."

      You won't define it because you know you don't have a coherent argument. Otherwise you would have given it long ago.

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    26. I've given it multiple times. Ironically, it is you who have not offered any definition, and you asked the question (your second question, to be precise). You may avail yourself of a reading tutor, if necessary. :)

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    27. Second post question, rather.

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    28. No you haven't. And the more you avoid doing so the more you show everyone that you don't have a coherent argument. Give a definition from a linked online dictionary.

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  2. I was surprised to find the amount of comments left on this post had risen from 0 to 35 since my last view. I thought 'Wow, what the heck happened?'. Sadly (in a way) I didn't miss some great battle of intellects but just some troll getting outwitted. Pretty funny stuff though :)

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    1. Indeed. I'm sorry about all that James; it was great fun, but I didn't think I might be disappointing some others who may have been watching and hoping for something more interesting. :)

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