Blue Flower

The Ontological Argument
and its variations

Definition for the purposes of this argument: 

GOD - greatest conceivable being, i.e. the being or existence than which nothing superior is conceivable (Anselm's essential insight in his ontological argument.)


Argument from Creation and Possible Worlds

1) An essential property of GOD is the status as supreme or unsurpassable creator, i.e. the creator than which none greater can be conceived.

2) If a being is conceived as capable of creating only our world and/or some possible worlds, then it cannot be GOD, since a greater creator could then be conceived, i.e. one capable of creating all possible worlds.

3) We must therefore conceive GOD as creator of all possible worlds.

4) A being necessarily exists or is instantiated in every world it can create. Since GOD can by definition create all possible worlds, He must be existent in any world that exists.

5) A simple alternative therefore confronts us: (a) GOD is logically possible (i.e. exists in at least one possible world), which entails that there is no possible world in which GOD fails to exist, being the creator of all possible worlds. (b) GOD fails to exist in at least one possible world, which entails that GOD fails to exist in all possible worlds, i.e. GOD is logically impossible.

6) It follows that the existence and the nonexistence of GOD cannot both be logically possible. As the unsurpassable creator of all possible worlds, GOD must either be instantiated in all possible worlds or else instantiated in none. Either the existence or the nonexistence of GOD is logically necessary.

7) GOD is logically possible (i.e. conceivable without contradiction).

8) Therefore, it is logically necessary that GOD exists. Top of page.


Argument from Eternity

1) An essential property of GOD is His eternal or everlasting existence. If GOD could exist for only a finite duration, or was capable of coming into or passing out of existence, He would not be the supreme conceivable being. Nothing less than eternity is compatible with the GOD idea.

2) If GOD exists, He exists eternally; it is therefore logically impossible for Him to cease to exist. Conversely, if GOD does not exist, He eternally fails to exist; it is therefore logically impossible for Him to "come into existence".

3) Suppose that the existence and nonexistence of GOD are both logically possible. Then: If GOD exists, His nonexistence must be a logical possibility which, by virtue of GOD's essential eternity, can never, through infinite time, be realized or instantiated. Conversely, if GOD does not exist, then by the same logic His existence must be a logical possibility which can never, throughout eternity, be instantiated.

4) A logical possibility whose instantiation is logically impossible is an incoherent, self-contradictory notion. Such a logical possibility which logically cannot ever be realized, is indistinguishable from logical impossibility.

5) The eternal existence essential to the GOD concept entails that either GOD exists by logical necessity, since His nonexistence is logically impossible; or conversely, GOD fails to exist by logical necessity, since His existence is logically impossible. The issue is purely conceptual: If GOD is logically possible, He must exist by logical necessity.

6) GOD is logically possible (i.e. conceivable without contradiction).

7) Therefore, it is logically necessary that GOD exists.  Top of page.



Argument from Modality of Existence

1) If both the existence and nonexistence of GOD are logically possible, i.e. genuinely conceivable (which entails their conceivability for GOD, should He exist), then GOD would belong to the class of logically contingent entities, like ourselves.

2) The definition of GOD precludes the status of contingency in any sense because, as Anselm saw, we can conceive of an ultimate existent for whom its own nonexistence is not conceivable. To have even a conceivable alternative to one's existence is a deficiency, which by definition cannot characterize GOD.

3) The modality of ontologically and logically necessary (or non-contingent) existence, in contrast to our contingent mode of existence, is therefore a fundamental property of the GOD concept.

4) The common and dogmatic assertion that both the existence and nonexistence of GOD are logically possible is incoherent because it denies an essential property of the GOD concept, i.e. its logically necessary existence.

5) The existence and nonexistence of GOD cannot both be logically possible states of affairs. Either the existence or the nonexistence of GOD is logically necessary. If GOD is logically possible then He logically cannot fail to exist.

6) GOD is logically possible (i.e. conceivable without contradiction).

7) Therefore, it is logically necessary that GOD exists.  Top of page.


Argument from Omniscience

1) An essential property of GOD is omniscience, i.e. unsurpassable or infallible awareness of everything that exists.

2) This perfection of knowledge entails that every logically possible state of affairs, in the event of its instantiation, would be infallibly known by GOD.

3) If there are logically possible states of affairs which, if actualized, would be unknowable by GOD, His scope of knowledge, however extensive, would be essentially limited. Thus He could not really be GOD.

4) Suppose the nonexistence of GOD is a logical possibility. Then in the event of the instantiation of that possibility, such a state of affairs would have to be perfectly known by GOD (by definition). This is self-contradictory.

5) The existence and the nonexistence of GOD cannot both be logically possible states of affairs. The definition of omniscience entails that the logical possibility of GOD's existence precludes the logical possibility of His nonexistence. If GOD is logically possible then He logically cannot fail to exist.

6) GOD is logically possible (i.e. conceivable without contradiction).

7) Therefore, it is logically necessary that GOD exists.  Top of page.


Argument from Ultimate Creation

1) The definition of GOD entails the supreme conceivable degree of creative agency or influence. This means that GOD can creatively affect everything that exists, and, moreover, must infallibly do so in an ethically ideal manner.

2) As unsurpassable creative agent, GOD must not merely affect every existing state of affairs, but must also be capable of creatively affecting every logically possible state of affairs.

3) Every logically possible state of affairs therefore presupposes GOD as its partial creator or original creative influence.

4) If the nonexistence of GOD is logically possible, this would be, if instantiated, a state of affairs which GOD could neither interact with nor affect creatively. Since GOD is by definition the prime creative agent in all logically possible states of affairs, His nonexistence cannot be one of those logical possibilities.

5) The existence and nonexistence of GOD cannot both be logically possible. The status of GOD as unsurpassable creator entails that the logical possibility of its existence precludes the logical possibility of its nonexistence. If GOD is logically possible then He logically cannot fail to exist.

6) GOD is logically possible (i.e. conceivable without contradiction).

7) Therefore, it is logically necessary that GOD exists.  Top of page.


Argument from Possible Worlds

1) The definition of GOD entails that the ontological status of GOD is inextricably bound up with the status of logical possibility, or the set of possible worlds. Philosophers generally assume that GOD's existence and the realm of possible worlds can be treated independently of each other. This assumption fails to grasp the GOD concept and flagrantly begs the question.

2) It is essential to the GOD concept that there is a convergence or coincidence between the abstract existence of GOD and the realm of possible worlds. The supremacy of GOD entails that no possible world can be beyond the knowledge and creative activity of GOD.

3) From the definition of GOD a correlative definition of logical possibility or possible worlds necessarily follows: A possible world is a logically possible cosmic state of affairs (e.g. our universe at this moment), which is perfectly known by GOD as well as entirely subject to the creative agency of GOD.

4) If, as commonly supposed, the existence and nonexistence of GOD are both logically possible, then there are some possible worlds known and created by GOD, and other possible worlds which are independent of the knowledge and creativity of GOD. This is clearly at variance with the definition of GOD.

5) The existence and nonexistence of GOD cannot both be logically possible. If there is even one possible world in which the existence of GOD is instantiated, then it is necessarily instantiated in all possible worlds. Conversely, if there is any possible world in which the nonexistence of GOD is instantiated, then His nonexistence is necessarily instantiated in all possible worlds. Either GOD's existence or its nonexistence is therefore logically necessary, embracing all possible worlds. If GOD is logically possible then He logically cannot fail to exist.

6) GOD is logically possible (i.e. conceivable without contradiction).

7) Therefore, it is logically necessary that GOD exists.  Top of page.



The Argument by Alvin Plantinga

Definitions: (a) Maximal excellence - the property of having omniscience, omnipotence and moral perfection with respect to a possible world. (b) Maximal greatness - the property of having maximal excellence in every possible world.

1) There is a possible world in which maximal greatness is instantiated.

2) Necessarily, a being is maximally great only if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.

3) Necessarily, a being has maximal excellence in every possible world only if it has omnipotence, omniscience and moral perfection in every possible world.

4) Maximal excellence is instantiated in every possible world.

5) Therefore, in the actual world there is a being that is omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect.  Top of page.