Heathen Apologetics, Part 3: The Ontological Argument
Welcome back to Heathen Apologetics, where we repurpose common, Christian apologetics arguments and instead use them to support the veracity of Norse religious faith. The purpose of this series is to serve as a sort of giant reductio ad absurdum. Using the exact same logical constructs espoused by Christian thinkers, with only minor modifications to the premises made to substitute specifically Christian suppositions with specifically Norse ones, Heathen Apologetics intends to show that these arguments are entirely untenable. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Ontological Argument for the Existence of the Gods.
The greatness of the gods, itself, leads us to the proof for their existence.
- Our understanding of the gods is a race of beings than which no greater can be conceived.
- The idea of the gods exists in the mind.
- A race of beings that exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than a race of beings that exists only in the mind.
- If the gods only exist in the mind, then we can conceive of a greater race of beings—that which exists in reality.
- We cannot imagine something that is greater than the gods.
- Therefore, the gods exist.
So, let’s break this down. In premise #1, we set forth our idea of the gods– that is, we are explicitly stating that we understand the gods to be the greatest conceivable race of beings. We are not, in this statement, claiming that the gods exist and are the greatest race of beings. It would be fairly circuitous to give an argument for the gods’ existence which begins by assuming they exist. Premise #1 is only a statement about our concept of the gods; it is not about the gods, themselves.
Premise #2 then asserts that our idea of the gods (from #1), like all ideas, is something which exists in the mind. Ideas are not necessarily representative of actual, extant entities. For example, one can have an idea of a square circle, but no such entity actually exists except in the mind which conceived it.
In premise #3, then, we assert that something which exists both in the mind and in reality is greater than one which only exists in the mind. Using our “square circle” example, we would say that a “round circle” is objectively greater than a “square circle” because the former is an actual, extant entity, while the latter only exists in the mind which conceived it. Concepts which represent real things are greater than concepts which do not represent real things.
This brings us to premise #4. If it is found that the gods exist only in the mind, then we can immediately create an idea identical to the our concept of the gods, but which we imagine exists in reality. According to premise #3, this new concept would therefore be one which is greater than our concept of the gods.
Premise #5 simply states a logical consequent on premise #1. Since we understand the gods to be the greatest conceivable race of beings, it is impossible to conceive of any race of beings greater than the gods. If we cannot conceive of any race of beings greater than the gods, as is the consequent of premise #4, then according to premise #3 the gods must exist both in the mind and in reality.
Therefore, as we conclude in line #6, the gods exist.