The ontological argument, kitteh style

December 30, 2011 • 8:27 am

Reader James Sweet’s comment about Plantinga’s Ontological Argument in the thread below has inspired me to make this LOLTheologian:

I’ve always claimed that to truly see how ludicrous religion is, you should read the Bible as if it were written by cats. Fortunately, that’s been done by the LOLcat Bible Tranalstion Project, which has converted the entire Old and New Testaments into LOLspeak.  And they’ve also produced a hilarious page of arguments for and against a Divine Felid that parody the arguments of theology:  “Proof of Ceiling Cat” (which also includes “Awgooments not for Ceiling Cat“).  They’ve got their own “Ontologikewl Awgooment.

58 thoughts on “The ontological argument, kitteh style

  1. Nope. That’s only a REAL cheeseburger, all crushed with barely a sliver of meat visible outside the bun. The awesomest conceivable cheeseburger wouldn’t look like that at all; it would look like the big posters on the walls and in the windows at the fast food restaurants.

    1. Actually, it’s a cat-sized cheeseburger, but a real one.

      You see, those posters of cheeseburgers all show burgers the size of your head. But, when you actually get the burger, it’s barely the size of your paw. Fist. Whatever.

      But teh kitteh’s cheezburger actually is the size of a cat’s head, and therefore the true ultimate awesome cheeseburger described by the ontological argument.

      …except, I bet it’s not a bacon cheezburger, so maybe it isn’t quite so ultimately awesome after all….

      b&

      1. Seriously, I was just reading about the Ontological Argument at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument) and it amazes me that so many famous philosophers even discussed it, let alone defended it. How can anyone justify the unfounded logical leap that the greatest possible thing we can imagine must exist?

        By the way, the REAL awesomest conceivable cheeseburger would have to look something like this:

        http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/07/28/business/600-adco.jpg

        1. Those’re impressive burgers…but they’ve got wonderbread buns and American cheese-like slices. (And they’re also Photoshopped — compare the seeds on the buns.)

          A true awsomeest cheezburger would be on a toasted sourdough roll and have two-year-old cheddar. And the beef would be free-range, and….

          b&

          1. You mean like this one from Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor. Breathtaking food, with prices to match…

            Cornman Farms’ Burger
            All grass-fed beef, dry-aged, ground and grilled over oak, served on a Bakehouse onion roll with lettuce, onion and pickles. Add cheese (prices vary) or applewood smoked bacon for $2.50.

            $12.95

        2. Yup, I feel the same way.

          I told a friend of mine, who is an atheist but not particularly interested in religious issues, the basics of the ontological argument. His reaction was basically, “What?” I had to explain it like three times. He just kept saying, “But that doesn’t make any sense.” hehehe….

            1. That.

              I cannot believe what some people get paid to do. From theological navel-gazing to sports commentary – it makes you wonder how many trillions of dollars are absolutely wasted every year. Think what we might accomplish if those resources were applied intelligently.

              Gah!

              1. LOL, “sports commentary…” (But hey, please stop short of my Detroit Tigers’ radio announcers–they’re fantastic. [Tho I’m sure they make an order of magnitude less than their TV brethren.]) 😀

                And the worst part is that the market is simply a reflection of what the majority want. That doesn’t explain academia, though. I’d love to learn that someone is studying the cognitive dissonance between the science faculties and many of the lib arts faculties at major universities. Seems to me one side of higher learning is tactfully overlooking the, uh, less-evidenced side…

                (I know you’re a musician; music is the great exception. No one has to suspend credulity to appreciate, even to be swept away by, music. And I’m unaware of any music critics who advocate such.)

            2. Of course I’m biased, but I’ve always separated music from the other arts. There’s so much biology, psychology, and physics bound up in the way we perceive organized sound. Our reactions to music, it seems to me, are much more visceral and subconscious than our reactions to other art forms. Perhaps this means there’s more to be objectively said about music.

              And my views are by no means the majority views in humanities-land. Postmodern theory is alive and well. I’d be thrilled if “my side” of academia would wake up and smell the evidence (as far as is possible).
              🙂

              1. I couldn’t agree with you more about music.

                As to the “sides” of academia; surely there must always be some rationalists in the arts…I’m amazed they can’t just point out the emperor’s lack of clothes and quell the nonsense from the get-go.

        3. That’s Three Cheeseburgers! You have proved the Trinity. Hooray!

          And I thought the Trinity was Cheese, Burger, and Bun, but you have proved the Trinitarian Nature of The Trinity.

          Sophisticated Theology is Sophisticated.

        4. It may have been Socrates or Pythagoras who started it by commenting on how humans discover perfection in nature and aspire to that perfection. The sun is invariably used as an example of a perfect circle. Somehow, somewhere along the way the idea of discovering perfection in nature was distorted and nature became the source of perfection from which all knowledge was derived – now, since humans believed in gods, those gods must really exist somewhere in nature even though they couldn’t be seen like other ‘perfect’ objects such as the sun.

          1. This trivial pursuit of “perfection” was popular in the Eastern religions too. There is whole (very poetic) chapter of the Bhagvad Gita which essentially describes Krishna as a Pareto optimal point in the partial order of objects in the universe. The style of the chapter is parodied to great effect on the Uncyclopedia article on Hinduism (in the subsection on “The Song”).

        5. Especially given that everybody in the last 700 years or so learns the number system in primary school. I mean they can clearly see that there is no “largest integer”, though for any integer, there is a larger integer. Given this fact, the suspension of disbelief when it comes to the ontological “argument” is rather weird.

        6. Yes, I was always surprised why ontological argument is even seriously discussed.

          To me it seemed extremely dumb and nonsensical, I just thought that there is some underlying philosophy that I don’t understand as I am not a professional.

    1. Yes, but this particular flaw didn’t occur to me until I read Plantinga’s version. I was trying to articulate where the problem was with the modal logic version, and I knew there had to be a problem because I had come up with a reductio ad absurdum where you could prove basically anything you wanted using the same argument outline. And then I realized the same reductio applied to the traditional (Anselm) version as well.

      Sorry if that was confusing 🙂

        1. The best parody is your favorite variation on the LOLCAT at the top of the page.

          Hint: any god would be even more perfect if it were delivering the perfect ____ to you right this very moment.

          b&

              1. No, why? Plantinga plays exactly the same word game with “greatest” as Anselm did: he never defines it, at any moment it means exactly what he wants it to mean, and he acts as if it meaning were at all times crystal-clear. The meaning actually changes several times through the argument.

              2. Well, sure, Calum. They both use different wording, but they’re the same bullshit.

                Imagine if / it’s theoretically possible there might be the Ultimate Ultimate, but it wouldn’t be the Ultimate Ultimate if it didn’t exist, so it therefore does exist. And they both obfuscate things by delving into the details of just how super wonderful the Ultimate Ultimate would have to be.

                Really, the heart of the matter is them assuming that perfection is possible in the first place, or that perfection requires existence, or that existence is compatible with perfection, or any number of variations on that theme. But they all just gloss over those tiny little details and plow ahead to the conclusion of the sermon, logic and evidence be damned.

                Besides. The Ultimate Ultimate they both like to define into question had a thing for having his thralls fondle his intestines through his gaping chest wound. I don’t know about you, but that hardly seems perfect to me.

                Cheers,

                b&

        2. I’d have to revisit Plantinga’s to do it justice, and I don’t have the time just at this second… but it’s basically the same format.

          IIRC, Platinga’s little trick is to make someone agree that it’s possible that there is an entity that has trait X in every possible world. Then you do you apply your little S5 doohickey and “possibly necessary” becomes “necessary”.

          It might be something roughly like this:

          1. A cheeseburger is maximally awesome if I can haz it in every possible world.
          2. A maximally awesome cheeseburger possibly exists. (premise)
          3. Combining 1 and 2, possibly necessarily I can haz cheeseburger.
          4. Applying S5 to 3, necessarily I can haz cheeseburger.
          5. I can haz cheeseburger!!!

          1. Not exactly. That’s Guanilo’s island argument, which fails, because there cannot be a maximally great quantitative reality.

            Whether there can, as Plantinga thinks, be a maximally great qualitative reality is another question.

      1. More succinct and easily grasped than trying to explain posets and why the Ontological arguments are equivalent to demanding to have your cheeseburger and eat it too.

  2. The high school dropout argument is a killer!

    Teh hiskool dropout

    Iz findin cheezburger on ground and I noz sum dropoutz has been workin in MacD’s. There cantz be a cheezburger withouts a hiskool dropout been makin it. So I sees Urfs and iz be thinking “Dang that bees wun fine Urfs” sumone must av maed it. dis fine urths cudnt av com form nothin. must b ceiling cat

    kthxbai

  3. The paradox of the most awesomest conceivable cheeseburger is that once you take a bite out of it, it stops being the most awesomest conceivable cheeseburger because the most awesomest conceivable cheeseburger does not have a bite missing.

    1. Not to be a pedant, but my most awesomest conceivable cheeseburger in fact does have a bite out of it — with the bite being savored in my mouth!

    2. This is why God hides, and must hide, himself. For if He Manifested in any way, then he would not be the most perfect being you could imagine, for you would not be imagining Him any more.

      So it was necessary and perfect for Him to create a Universe which had no evidence of Him whatsoever.

      There, can I have my Templeton grant now?

      1. You’re very close, but you need to put in at least a nominal reference to science. Helps fool the rubes, you see. I suggest adding the following:

        “Therefore, there is no conflict between science and religion, because science by definition cannot hope to uncover evidence of God’s existence. The New Atheists claim that this a point against God’s existence, but they are committing the fallacy of scientism. Because theology predicts that God will not provide evidence of His existence, the lack of such evidence actually confirms, not refutes, His existence.”

        At which point, with apologies to the late Douglas Adams, I must caution you not to go on to prove that black=white, or at least to avoid zebra crossings thereafter.

      2. “This is why God hides, and must hide, himself. For if He Manifested in any way, then he would not be the most perfect being you could imagine, for you would not be imagining Him any more.”

        This is very similar to the reason you never got to see the alien in Contact: If they showed him, he would not be the most alien being you could imagine, for you would not be imagining him anymore. That’s why he turned out to be Jodie Foster’s dead father.

        1. For an omnipotent, omniscient, omni out yer whazzo being, those Real Theologians sure put a lot of restrictions on the most perfect being.

          What’s next, be in before midnight and don’t forget to call home if you’re going to be late ?

  4. They say such silly things that you’d swear they meant to make you laugh, so I propose that from now on we use the word theoLOLgian and scrap that archaic word ‘theologian’.

  5. My problem with the ontological argument is that it is circular: ie., the conclusion is contained in the first premise. In any fantasy, the existence of the thing is always assumed. If the greatest thing you can imagine is something with all of the attributes of God plus existence, the second greatest thing would not be something with all the attributes of God minus existence. It would be some other great thing that is assumed to exist. Nobody ever says, “Someday I hope to imagine winning the lottery.”

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