Necessary Existence of God

By Prayson Daniel

Judeo-Christians understand God as a being that is perfect in knowledge (Ps. 147:5), power (Job 42:2), presence (Ps. 139), acts (Ps. 18:30) and has none greater (Heb. 6:13) nor equal (Ps. 40:6).

Following Anselm’scredimus te esse aliquid quo nihil maius cogitari possit“¹, God is understood to be a Being that exhibits maximal perfection. God is, borrowing Alvin Plantinga’s words, a being “having an unsurpassable degree of greatness—that is, having a degree of greatness such that it’s not possible that there exist a being having more.” (Plantinga 2002: 102 emp. removed)

Necessary Existence of God

God is thus understood to be a being having maximal excellence with respect to power (omnipotence), knowledge (omniscience), presence (omnipresence), and is morally perfect (this is why, for example, God cannot lie or be unrighteous).

From S5 modal logic the existence of such a being(God) is either impossible or necessary. The concept of contingent existence of God is a contradictory idea since (i) necessarily, “a being is maximally great only if it has maximal excellence in every world” and (ii) necessarily, “a being has maximal excellence in every world only if it has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection in every world.” (2002: 111)

Thus either the existence of God is impossible or necessary. The existence of God is not impossible. Therefore it is necessary. Therefore God, as understood by Judeo-Christians, exists.

Is this a persuasive case for existence of such a Being? I think it is not persuasive. Nevertheless it does show that Judeo-Christians’ understanding of God is rationally acceptable. Theists do have warrant in believing in a being with unsurpassed degree of greatness (God).

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¹ Anselmus Cantuariensis Prologion: Trans. [W]e believe that You[God] are a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.

Plantinga, Alvin (2002) God, Freedom & Evil. First published by Harper and Row., 1974. Reprinted 2002.

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8 replies
    • toby says:

      He can’t. Plantinga can’t. “If it possibly exists in one possible world, then it exists in all world.” One place to start with taking this one down is that “possible worlds” are figments of philosophers imaginations.

      Reply
  1. Andy Ryan says:

    “a being has maximal excellence in every world only if it has omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection in every world.”

    How are you determine whether it has moral perfection? If your definition of moral perfection is ‘possesses whatever moral attributes that God has’ then it’s all circular. The perfect moral attributes like loving and forgiving are only moral at all because they are the attributes that God has. If he didn’t have them then they wouldn’t be moral, right? I mean, that’s the argument that apologists advance. So what does it even mean to say that ‘a being has maximal excellence because it has moral perfection in every world’? What would it look like for it NOT to have moral perfection? What ever morals it has will by definition be perfect, according to the apologists’ argument.

    Reply
    • toby says:

      It’s a subjective argument because it’s assuming that maximal excellence = omniscience & omnipotence & moral perfection. Says who? Apologists. Therefore true. Right? No.

      Reply
  2. Ed Vaessen says:

    “God is thus understood to be a being having maximal excellence with respect to power (omnipotence), knowledge (omniscience), presence (omnipresence), and is morally perfect (this is why, for example, God cannot lie or be unrighteous).”

    The flaw is that he is talking about an idea that one can have about God. It is the God that exists in the mind, not one that may really exist.

    Reply
  3. Seyton Hayes says:

    I can use that argument too:

    -A being has maximal depravity in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly evil in W; and
    -A being has maximal evilness if it has maximal depravity in every possible world.
    -It is possible that there is a being that has maximal evilness. (Premise)
    -Therefore, possibly, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly evil being exists.
    -Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly evil being exists.
    -Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly evil being exists.

    And good can be both unrighteous and Lie:

    God Deceives(Lies)

    Ezekiel 14:9:
    And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

    Jeremiah 20:7
    O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.

    God is Unrighteous
    1 Samuel 15:3
    Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.

    If killing babies is Righteous then we need a new definition for righteous

    Reply

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