We’ve been discussing chapter 1 of God is Good God is Great where William Lane Craig discusses various arguments for the existence of God and Richard Dawkins’s response to them. This time we are looking at the ontological argument, made in this case by philosopher Alvin Plantiga and described by Craig.
This imagines a possible world where:
1) ‘It is possible that a maximally great being exists’ and then logically follows up the implications of this premise. ‘Maximal greatness’ means that if God is God, he will be all knowing, all powerful, perfectly good and such like. If this is possible then it follows that:
2) If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world
3) If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world
4) if a maximally great being exists in every possible world then it exists in the actual world
5) If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
6) Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
Craig notes that, philosophically speaking, premises 2-5 are fairly uncontroversial. ‘Most philosophers would agree that if God’s existence is even possible, then he must exist.’ The real question is there any coherence to thinking premise 1 is true.
Craig argues that it would need to be shown that premise 1 is incoherent for it to be rejected – like the idea of a round square. But, despite Dawkins devoting several pages of invective and ridicule against the ontological argument in The God Delusion, premise 1 is not incoherent. There are reasonable grounds for thinking that it is possible a maximally great being exists. Humans have intuitively believed this for millennia.