Since many days i have been thinking to write something about the ontological argument which i think is the strongest argument for the existence of God. The argument is air tight as it does not involve any externally existing scientific facts to make it vulnerable to any controversy due to the obvious fact that scientific facts change and hence the arguments based on the scientific facts have to undergo evolution. A good example will the multiverse scenarios and quantum vacuum issues related to the cosmological argument.
At first sight Anselm's argument is remarkably unconvincing if not downright irritating; it looks too much like a parlor puzzle or word magic. And yet nearly every major philosopher from the time of Anselm to the present has had something to say about it; this argument has a long and illustrious line of defenders extending to the present. Indeed, the last few years have seen a remarkable flurry of interest in it among philosophers.
What accounts for its fascination? Not, I think, its religious significance, although that can be underrated. Perhaps there are two reasons for it. First, many of the most knotty and difficult problems in philosophy meet in this argument. Is existence a property? Are existential propositions -- propositions of the form x exists -- ever necessarily true? Are existential propositions about what they seem to be about? Are there, in any respectable sense of "are," some objects that do not exist? If so, do they have any properties? Can they be compared with things that do exist? These issues and a hundred others arise in connection with Anselm's argument. And second, although the argument certainly looks at first sight as if it ought to be unsound, it is profoundly difficult to say what, exactly, is wrong with it. Indeed, I do not believe that any philosopher has ever given a cogent and conclusive refutation of the ontological argument in its various forms.
The ontological argument has gone through huge improvements with time but the basic old version as presented first in the 12th century can be put like this "And assuredly that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot exist in the understanding alone. For suppose it exists in the understanding alone; then it can be conceived to exist in reality; which is greater"
A second format can be " Therefore, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, exists in the understanding alone, the very being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, is one, than which a greater can be conceived. But obviously this is impossible. Hence there is no doubt that there exists a being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it exists both in the understanding and in reality"
Avoiding the issues related to this argument , i will jump to the new version of this argument presented by Alavin Platinga ,the famous American philosopher , in which he has come up with some very rational ideas to show the strength of this argument. The idea is the idea of possible worlds.
Lets consider some propositions to explain the idea of the possible world.
1. Hamid is a bachelor
2.Every bachelor is necessarily unmarried (as a "married bachelor" is a logically incoherent idea so the opposite that "Every bachelor has to be necessarily unmarried" must be necessarily true)
3.So, Hamid is necessarily unmarried (deduction from 1 and 2)
However we can see that the deduction though valid from the premises is untrue as we know that the person Hamid can get married anytime so he is not necessarily unmarried. To escape this contradiction , one must induct the idea of the possible worlds.
Possible worlds are sets of propositions which might be untrue in the present true world but may be true in some possible world. Like lets consider the following proposition which are true for the world in which we live.
A. Asif Ali Zardair is the president of Pakistan.
B.Misbah ul Haq is the president of Pakistan cricket team.
C.Dr Umar works at Agha khan hospital Karachi.
These three propositions combine and make our present world in which we are living. However if some other possibilities are considered , we will realize that our present world is just a single way in which reality has expressed itself though it could have and it can express itself in many other ways. Lets rewrite the above propositions.
A.Nawaz Shareef is the president of Pakistan.
B.Shahid Afridi is the captain of Pakistan cricket team.
C..Dr Umar works at Jinnah hospital Karachi.
These three propositions though untrue in the present world can be true in a possible world as they are logically coherent and they are ways in which reality can express itself. They are not propositions like " A prime number is the president of Pakistan" as we know that a prime number becoming the president is a logical and metaphysical impossibility. Reality can never express itself in such a way.
The problem which we faced in the case of "As Hamid is a bachelor so he is necessarily unmarried" can be solved through this concept as well by simply inducting the idea of possible world in the first proposition. It would be like this.
The old version of ontological argument can be exfoliated by the same concept. Consider the following premises.
A. God is the maximally greatest being. (Maximally great is a logically coherent idea and it puts in all the positive qualities of greatness in a being like omnipotence , omnibenevolence,omniscience etc)
B.For the maximally greatest being to be maximally greatest being , it must exist as maximally great in all the possible worlds. (As if it fails it exist in any possible world , it won't be maximally great being)
C.Therefor God must exist with his maximal excellence in all the possible worlds.
D.Our true world is a possible world. (As explained above)
E. Therefor God exists in the real world.
So it can be said without any doubt that God exists.