Proof From All Possible Worlds

The argument from possible worlds is atributed to Plantinga.

  • P1) A thing has maximal greatness if and only if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.
  • P2) Whatever has maximal excellence is omniscient, omnipotent and morally perfect.
  • P3) There is a possible world in which the property of possessing maximal greatness is exemplified.
  • P4) The property of possessing maximal greatness is exemplified in every possible world.
  • P5) If maximal greatness is exemplified in every world, then it is exemplified in this world.

This proof is also quite useful: we may use the same form of argument to argue the uniqueness of God. The idea that if every possible world exists, then so would one we term "heaven" in which dwells God Himself. Then we may conceive of the existence of God whom we may consider then to exist here (because He exists elsewhere.) This is also is somewhat beguiling.

Beguiling because it does not qualify whether a "maximally great" being is an abstraction or not. There is no sense that existence is a property of God in the argument, or that God is imagined to be necessarily existent beyond being merely an "idea." The creation of other worlds to permit a domain for our imagination is in all sense of the word a little 'presumptuous' for my liking.

If on the other hand the ontological part would infer that God can not conceivably be imagined to not exist (consistently) in any possible world, I would prefer the outcome. However this is not the case, it is a different form of argument that that of Anselm's.

Plantinga would infer the similar result that God necessarily exists in this world because in every possible world there are beings so excellent that there is a supremum of God over them all, and God must be therefore existent, and existent here. But, does "all possible worlds" allow a supremum if God in actuality is not possible? Using Zorns lemma does not return the top of a chain if God is merely an abstraction and the world He exists in is also an abstraction. The top of the chain may not be God!

Likewise our imaginations are tested by the argument to immediately repeat Anselm's argument in this world, with each other possible world being the difference between imagining a great, greater, greater still etc.. and we immediately can state a closer argument to that of Anselm that "God is that being greater than any that can be imagined by any possible being in this world."

However, this argument fails, for God Himself if indeed existent would then not be able to conceive of His own existence. Then we should modify to "God is that being greater than or equal to any that can be imagined by any possible being in this world." Which is not so much of a distinction, but shows that it is indeed possible to justify non-belief to those individuals that do not conceive God as greater and necessary, i.e. that all beings are equal.

Of course then; God is not universally necessary as a concept that must exist logically (necessary) true and the principle that God must exist necessarily or at all is demoted to merely P(God exists).

If however we state "God is that being greater than any that can be imagined by any possible being in this world whom is not God Himself." We could likewise demote God or promote everyone else to the status of God. (And arrive) at the assumption that God may not be perfect. We in essence need a greater example of God, perfection rather than necessary existence.

Then all these objections are resolved in the statement that "God may not be in truth perceived as being imperfect." If then every being is imperfect can they perfectly conceive of God? I am assured that they can conceive of His necessary existence in their imagination. I do not hold to the "possible worlds" idea that I may use my imagination to construct God through every "imagination" and chain I have of contingent beings that are likewise imperfect. With Zorn, choosing an element at infinity of a chain of contingent beings seems very ugly to me.

I do however swiftly arrive at conceiving of God's existence when I begin in principle to ascend a chain of necessarily existent beings. For this reason, I prefer Anselm's argument.

Continue To Next Page

Return To Section Start

Return To Previous Page