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Garrett Gray makes a strange and ultimately unconvincing ontological argument for the existence of God that may perhaps validate that existence exists, but not that God exists.
Gray draws primarily from three theological sources–namely Rashi’s commentary on the Torah; the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and Exodus 3:14–to reach the following position:
God is That Which Is. When a Christian or a Philonian refers to God, they’re referring to “Being-In-Itself”. If we’re going to prove that God exists, then, this Being is the entity we’ll be dealing with.
God being understood as “That Which Is,” or “Being-In-Itself,” or existence, Gray then points to an argument from Parmenides for, basically, why existence exists. Gray summarizes the argument by Parmenides as follows:
P1: Being either is or is not.
P2: We can only make statements like “Being either is or is not” if Being is.
C1: Being is.
This would perhaps be a stronger argument if it included the lemma that, in accordance with P2, if a statement like “Being either is or is not” is made, then Being is. It is unclear whether there is something inherent in this mode of communication that uniquely justifies Being being, or existence existing, or whether there is any difference between this and any other praxeological argument for why existence exists.
Immediately following Gray’s propositional translation of Parmenides’s argument for why Being is, or why existence exists, he then “combine[s] this simple syllogism [the Parmenides argument] with the definition of God we discussed above [to] get an addendum”:
C1: Being is.
P3: God is Being-In-Itself.
C2: God exists.
Gray concludes his article with the next paragraph:
Quod erat demonstrandum. God, defined in the manner advocated by a number of the world’s religions and philosophers, exists. Of course, we’ve demonstrated exactly no characteristics beyond the basic point of existence, so it remains to be seen what else we can know (if anything) about HOW God exists. Most of that seeing will take place over the next few posts, in which I intend to evaluate a variety of other philosophical arguments for or against God’s existence or some part of God’s nature, and in the few posts to follow that, in which I intend to elaborate on whatever the fruit of that earlier work might be.
Fortunately for the point I seek to make, Gray concedes he has “demonstrated exactly no characteristics beyond the basic point of existence.” He has indeed not demonstrated any characteristics of God beyond the basic point of existence, but he has not even demonstrated that God exists for the following reason: One can make basically the same exact argument for sheer existence existing, and there will be nothing qualitatively different in the account.
Consider the following argument:
P1: It is either the case that there is Being, or existence, or that there is not Being, or existence.
P2: To even cognize or discuss this issue presupposes Being, or existence.
P3: If an action presupposes Being, or existence, and the action is successfully completed, then it is true that there is Being, or existence.
P4: The truth-makers of P3 obtain.
P5: Because of P4, P2 is true.
P6: Because of P5, the second disjunct of P1 does not obtain, whereas the first disjunct does obtain, and thus there is Being, or existence.
C: Ergo, there is Being, or existence.
Whether Being, or existence, is called X, or God, does not change the substance of the argument aside from the assignment of that name. If this argument, perhaps a strengthened form of that of Gray, succeeds, then it is unclear how he has demonstrated anything other than that existence exists. It is an interesting argument perhaps in light of the philosophic developments of Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand, but to call existence by the name “God” begs the question from the start. Nothing he has included will substantiate the claim that God is Being-in-Itself. I am doubtful that trying to “demonstrate” further characteristics of “God” will in any way strengthen his case, if his starting point is anything akin to the above examined form of an ontological argument. Furthermore, it may eventually become clear that this “God” Gray is discussing is the subject of an arbitrary assertion. We shall see.
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