God Exists B/C He's God

West

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#21
This particular argument is not circular, because God is being defined as whatever is the greatest thinkable thing that exists. It could be a watermelon. And--according to this argument--if the watermelon was indeed the greatest thinkable thing, then it would also be God. God is being used very loosely as a label and nothing more.
 
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#22
I believe I've just misread you. All the same, illustrating your point would probably be more effective than condescension. You didn't actually contribute any new information in that first paragraph. It was essentially a long-winded way of saying, "Trust me, it is."

That being said, since this argument is primarily about definitions, why not define what makes an argument circular? I would say that an article is traditionally considered circular when it uses its conclusion as its premise.
 

lreal

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#23
You must be kidding me.

You implicitly assume that God exists in the definition. When you define God as the greatest being conceivable, you're assuming that his existence is a part of this definition. The point of contention is whether or not he is a fictitious entity*. This is the conclusion you are trying to prove. You assume it in your initial premise. Circular.

Edit:*
 
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#24
No, you don't. You assume only that God is the greatest conceivable being. Then you indicate that an existing being is naturally greater than a non existing being. That proves the premise.
 

lreal

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#25
No, you don't. You assume only that God is the greatest conceivable being. Then you indicate that an existing being is naturally greater than a non existing being. That proves the premise.
lol...you do realize that what you just said shows your argument is circular right?

Your argument uses three steps (1->2->3).
In order to get to 2 you need to rely on 1.
Your statement above states that 1 is proved by using 2 which is derived from 1.
Circular...

I was going for something else but hey...you proved yourself wrong another way so congrats.
 
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#26
No...I really didn't. Premise 2 is not derived from Premise 1. In fact, I challenge you to show me where in Premise 1 that Premise 2 is set up at all.
 
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#27
Wouldn't it be easier to say that god is whatever you define he/she to be? If you believe then you could argue that they exist? Because faith requires the belief of people.

Sorry its breif but personally I have no faith so its difficult to argue against my own thoughts on the matter.
 

.Ted

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#28
And I sure wish the vocabulary choices were a bit simpler. Not all of us can understand what half of this page is about. But from what I've gathered, it's more about types of arguments than the debate itself. Can we all stay on topic, please?
 

West

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#29
Wouldn't it be easier to say that god is whatever you define he/she to be? If you believe then you could argue that they exist? Because faith requires the belief of people.
That seems to be what this argument is boiling down to, which is the main point why it isn't circular. Saying that "God is the greatest thinkable being" isn't proving or disproving the existence of God in this case, it is merely defining a label.

But from what I've gathered, it's more about types of arguments than the debate itself. Can we all stay on topic, please?
Types of arguments are being discussed because the validity of the originally-posted argument itself depends entirely on what type of argument it is. If it can be proved to be circular, the entire argument can be thrown out the window. And other than deciding on whether or not the argument is even solid, there's not a whole lot of objective input that can respond to "God exists because he's God".

But, I mean, if you have other thoughts on this argument and how it is or isn't correct, put 'em up.
 

.Ted

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#30
Types of arguments are being discussed because the validity of the originally-posted argument itself depends entirely on what type of argument it is. If it can be proved to be circular, the entire argument can be thrown out the window. And other than deciding on whether or not the argument is even solid, there's not a whole lot of objective input that can respond to "God exists because he's God".

But, I mean, if you have other thoughts on this argument and how it is or isn't correct, put 'em up.
Sorry, I guess I was a little hasty when I posted my thoughts. Carry on.
 
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#31
The thing about "God Exists Because He's God" is that I only put that as the title because I knew it would catch people's eyes. In a way, that's what the argument is saying, but it's really not. It's more like, "As a consequence of what the concept of God is, it simply must be real."

In the act of defining a word, you always have to label it. You will never be able to say anything that completely encapsulates what that thing is. That's why the success or failure is dependent largely on the definitions being used.

Also, I have to admit that I kind of posted something that was hard to really "debate" once you got it, as a way to "test the waters," so to speak.
 

lreal

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#32
No...I really didn't. Premise 2 is not derived from Premise 1. In fact, I challenge you to show me where in Premise 1 that Premise 2 is set up at all.
That was based on your writing...


Now for the real argument, look beyond the actual words you are using. Don't rely on semantical arguments like "definition," step back and see what the argument is stating. Its fallibility is as plain as day.

Premise 1: God is the greatest conceivable being.

Just read what is written. He is the greatest coneivable being. You are trying to prove that he exists. How can the greatest conceivable being be the greatest if he doesn't exist? Existence is part of the subset of the qualities of a being that is the "greatest". Premise 2 doesn't add anything to the argument because it just states what is implicitly assumed in Premise 1. And this implicitly assumed idea, his existsence, is what you are trying to prove.

Stop saying it isn't circular just because Premise 1 doesn't state his existence. Take a deep breath and look between the lines of the argument. You are implicitly assuming his existence in the first premise without actually stating it.
 
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#33
The definition is "greatest conceivable being," not "greatest conceivable being that also exists." You're saying that part of the definition assumes existence, but it doesn't.

To use a secular version of this argument, a homologous structure is a structure that is similar in multiple animals. These imply that the animals share a similar history. Thus, when we see these, we use them as evidence for evolution.

Are you using a "circular argument," or "assuming the truth of evolution" because there is an implication attached to the definition? No, you aren't. "Reading in between the lines," as you put it, we can see that the premise leads into the conclusion, which is exactly what a good argument should do.

Lastly, to answer your question, to "conceive" is to "form or develop in the mind." So no, the definition does not necessarily include existence.
 

der Astronom

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#34
A man can conceive anything within his imagination to be as great as he desires; but that has no correlation with reality. I can conceive of great characters in fiction and fantasy stories, but they don't exist.

As for the definition of a circle, you're both correct; there are several different ways of treating the concept of a circle because different fields of mathematics approach circles differently, and require different treatments of it, depending on what they're trying to do with it. It's not an uncommon thing to do in mathematics. "round" is just a word we came up with to describe what we visually think of as a circle or a curve; the mathematical definition of a circle doesn't necessarily have to do with how we describe or see a circle. "Round" is just a casual result of the mathematical definition.
 
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#35
Right, existence would be the "casual result" of the definition. To make it clear, it would only be the result of the greatEST conceivable being. It does not mean that everything someone conceives of exists in reality. The greatest conceivable character, Anselm would probably argue, is God.

That being said, it all depends on your definition of what makes a thing "great." Do you necessarily believe that an existing concept is automatically better than a nonexisting one? If not, you'd probably say that this argument doesn't really hold water.
 

der Astronom

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#36
Well, that opens another can of worms, doesn't it? I believe we had a similar discussion on a different thread, but it went something like a concept existing is dependent on who it exists to--I know what the concept of graph theory is about, so I know said concept exists, but that doesn't mean it does to you. To you, it might as well not exist until I make mention of it. And then thousands of years ago, nobody had any concept of what graph theory was--did it exist then?

So are we then at any position to say anything is great or not great, based on existence? Because we say that something is greater if it does exist, but if you are unaware of it, you believe it to be not so great. But to someone else who is aware of its existence (and it exists to them), they consider it greater. But they can also be wrong if they thought something exists when it doesn't.
 

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#37
The statement is quite well known, it also freaks people out because they see the logic of it. In fact it is what is known as a 'linguistic trick', you cannot make that statement in every language, it's effectiveness is based on clever use of the English language. It is however, flawed and the reason is summed up by a casual assumption that Ireal made:

Just read what is written. He is the greatest coneivable being. You are trying to prove that he exists. How can the greatest conceivable being be the greatest if he doesn't exist? Existence is part of the subset of the qualities of a being that is the "greatest".
He has made a basic assumption here that existence is somehow greater than non-existence, just think about that for a while. Is that really true? Yes, as a human I would like to remain existing rather than not existing, but does that mean existence is 'better'? I would say no.
 
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#38
"Better," "greater," "more," etc. Every language has these concepts. I believe the best description for this idea was, "A tumor that exists is greater than one that does not because it can actually cause damage. 'Greater' does not mean 'good.'
 
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