Non-Gods and Gods: A Cosmontological Treatise
Abstract: Incorporating the conceptual resources of the ontological argument for the existence of God into the underlying rationale of the cosmological ditto, I here present and defend a ‘cosmontological’ synthesis: an a posteriori argument for the existence of an all-perfect GOD: a being who, in virtue of being whatever it is better to be than not to be, is that than which a greater cannot be thought. Central to this synthesis is a very plausible principle called Exclusion: For any class (or property extension) C, if C is non-empty then there is an explanation for the non-emptiness of C if and only if there is at least one non-member of C which causes C to be non-empty. Applying this principle to the non-empty class of non-GODs, it follows that the non-emptiness of this class – the fact that there is at least one non-GOD – has an explanation if and only if it has been effectuated by at least one GOD. But the non-emptiness of this class has an explanation – or at least there is a fairly strong epistemic reason to think so. Accordingly, in the final analysis, the cosmontological argument proffers a fairly strong epistemic reason to postulate the existence of at least one (in fact, exactly one) GOD. Of course, the notion of ‘GOD’ is in need of much illumination. To begin with, ‘whatever it is better to be than not to be’ needs to be analyzed in a non-relative and yet meaningful way. Attempting such an analysis, I am able to deduce a great number of essential characteristics traditionally predicated of that than which a greater cannot be thought. Two of the most important of these characteristics, namely, omniscience and omnipotence, are then singled out for particular scrutiny. Omniscience (defined, roughly, as knowledge of all truths) is successfully defended against three lines of attack: the argument from essential indexicals, the argument from power sets, and the argument from theological fatalism. Omnipotence, which is a far more elusive property, is then likewise defended against different charges of incompossibility with other allegedly divine attributes, in particular, essential impeccability. I also venture, and try to substantiate, a new and distinctively metaphysical account of what omnipotence is. Roughly, according to this account, an agent A is omnipotent if and only if (i) A is incomparably more powerful than any other possible agent, and (ii) the possibility of any other agent is created by A.
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