Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Alvin Plantinga's Ontological Argument for God's Existence

Alvin Plantinga
Some arguments for God's existence are more popular than others. Many people are familiar with some version of the Cosmological Argument (e.g., the universe began to exist, so it must have a cause), the Design Argument (e.g., life is too complex to have arisen by natural processes, so it must have a designer), the Argument from Miracles (e.g., Jesus rose from the dead, so a miracle-working God exists), and the Argument from Personal Experience (e.g., I know God, so God exists).

These arguments are more popular than other arguments for God's existence primarily because they are easy to understand. Nevertheless, we shouldn't ignore arguments simply because they are difficult to grasp. Various versions of the Ontological Argument, for instance, attempt to move from our concept of God to the existence of God. Inferring the existence of something from our concept of something can seem confusing (especially when such reasoning can only be applied in rare instances), but the main versions of the Ontological Argument are worth taking seriously.

The Ontological Argument has a long history (St. Anselm of Canterbury used a version of the argument in the 11th century AD), but it has its modern defenders as well. The following video explains Alvin Plantinga's modal Ontological Argument (where the word "modal" refers to notions of possibility).

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