When people (usually laughably, but that’s just my own opinion) try to put a logical argument behind their theistic beliefs, I have usually found that they resort to one of three general arguments: Teleological, Cosmological, or Ontological. I will address each in their own time as I feel like it, and now, I’m going to offer a pretty quick rebuttal to the Ontological Argument.
First proposed by Anselm of Canterbury during the Dark Ages before the Renaissance, this argument does not rely on any sort of empirical observation–opting for conventions of language instead. Over the centuries, various apologists have strengthened the argument, but it has basically held the same general premises:
- Our understanding of God is a being than which no greater can be conceived.
- The idea of God exists in the mind.
- A being which exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a being that exists only in the mind.
- If God only exists in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater being—that which exists in reality.
- We cannot be imagining something that is greater than God.
- Therefore, God exists.
There are so many well documented objections to this argument that I don’t need to pretend that I have something new to add (just look at the wikipedia article I linked), but I will add one thing. Let’s indulge, for the moment, the supporters of this infantile train of thought and assume that this argument is true. Some God, that is the greatest thing ever (!), exists, but which God is it?
For me, the “Perfect” God or “being than which no greater can be conceived” definitely would not have been the petty, bigoted, jealous genocidal maniac of the Old Testament. The tyrannical God of the New Testament, who willingly sent his son (who was also himself, somehow) to be tortured and murdered to forgive use for sins we didn’t even commit doesn’t even come close to matching that description. No perfect god would penalize people for the sins of their ancestors. And, perhaps most of all, no god that can even be remotely considered perfect would punish the nonbeliever for the inability of his own followers to use the expansive minds and reason that he supposedly gave them in such a way as to adequately support and convey his existence.
When it comes down to it, the whole damn argument is so freaking subjective as to make it completely useless for explaining anything ever.