Ultimate Reconciliation: An Ontological Defense

Posted By Thomas Perez. March 25, 2012 at 3:39am. Copyright 2012.

Introduction

Originally, this study/article was intended to debunk the concept concerning the Ultimate Reconciliation of all – in other words I wanted to debate my very own beliefs, not from the Biblical point of view, but from the philosophical. Sometime ago I had promised to conduct such a study – citing in a recent status that, “it will be easy”. I also stated that, “it will not be the same old tired verses that other anti-UR articles had posted because we’ve all pretty much had that concept conquered – both, from the Biblical and rational perspective.

But as I started to conduct this study (for about a week or so) I was defeated, stuck, and cornered. I had my tongue in my cheek. I simply could not get around its truth. You will note that it would appear that I had a good start. I was about to put my faith to the philosophical test, but what I got in return was a constant dead end – with no solution in sight. None that would be reasonable anyway for both soul & conscience. But I was determined to follow through (always staying true to my conscience) thus allowing me to let the study be just that – a study – allowing the research to flow, to simply be. And such as it is, my intentions at the end shifted to an apologetic defense concerning the Ultimate Reconciliation of all.

Let us Begin

Before we engage in our study, please let me state for the record that I’m an Ultimate Reconciliationist. Meaning, I believe in the eventual salvation of all men (saints and sinners alike). It is a belief that I can hope for. As I said before, quoting the Biblical text of Hebrews 11:3 “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. It is a hope that I can have faith in. Yes, it is a good thing to hope for.

But what if it had a possible flaw in its concept? What if its root or foundation was at risk due to the possible cancellation good may have if evil was completely wiped out? If all were to be cleansed, redeemed, justified, and eventually chosen, then what becomes of the good? What becomes of righteousness? There would be nothing to compare it against. It will, in all probability, cease to exist.

Can good ever truly triumph over evil? It is impossible for good to overcome evil while remaining wholly good itself. Does that sound right to you? Or wrong?

Is it possible that good could triumph over evil while still remaining true to itself? Or does good destroy itself in the very act of seeking to destroy? Should good be able to defeat evil?

What about a middle ground? Is there a third option, between “Good” and “Evil” that doesn’t need to have an opposite?

Lets us examine this possibility from what is called the Ontological Argument. Why would I include the ontological argument in reference to a discussion concerning the Ultimate Reconciliation of all? Before we answer that question let us secure the meaning of the phrase/term ‘ontological argument’

Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that God exists, from premises which are supposed to derive from some a source other than observation of the world – e.g., from reason alone. In other words, ontological arguments are arguments from nothing but analytic, a priori and necessary premises to the conclusion that God exists. Now if we are to conclude from a priori, then we must also submit to this premise all knowable attributes by the state of reason. Attributes of perfection, love, justice, evil, good, etc.

What is good? Is it indeed the absence of evil? What is evil? Is it the absence of good? Let us not enter into a circular argument that has no conclusion other than the difference between heaven and hell. Good exists when evil does not, and visa versa. In this form it is preferable that good is predominant.

With that said, it begs and warrants the question of what kind of good are we talking about?

I will say evil and good are more like minus and plus rather then ying and yang. You see its simple, the good for me doesn’t have to be the good for you, your good world could be my evil hell. I could give an example. Adolf Hitler was evil in my opinion, but he was good in another aspect (bringing Germany to its height as a world power) Thus He was good in other peoples opinion. This difference is brought about because we desire different things. I must be the minus for the other guy while he thinks he is the plus, and in my eyes he is the minus and I’ am the plus. So there may not really be good and evil here. Evil and good is only how we chose to see the situation. Let me use another example. If the ultimate reconciliation of all is a good thing, (and I believe it is) then the evil must exist in order for the righteousness of Christ to expand.

But if that is the case, then permit me to cite myself when I wrote in another study, Quote…“If we believe Christ died for all and still not all are saved then He is not omnipotent in salvation. If we believe that He died only for a select few (as in the Elect), then He is not omnipotent concerning victory over sin and this desert of wanderings. Some may argue and claim “It is our own freewill that dictates our final destiny.” If that is the case, again; I repeat God is not omnipotent. Others may argue and suggest God chooses whom He will save, while at the same time choosing to neglect the reprobate for all eternity. If this be the case then, then I repeat God is not the ultimate victor in all things created – the stain remains – the double standard still remains. If this is correct, then His holiness is shaken due to the double standard of allowing the negative to exist for all eternity.

If this negativity continues to exist for all eternity as Calvinism and Fundamental Christianity insinuates, then it will be no different as seen in Hinduism, The Vedas, The Upanishads, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism, Catharism, Taoism, and Full Preterism – at least within some circles/sects. Moreover, if this evil continues as seen in the so called eternally irreconcilable damned, then evil has been implied – (Tao-te Ching 2). Unquote.

Augustine in his Confessions, originally believed that Evil existed on its own and it was even a substance (duality). However, as he underwent his conversion, he came to believe that there was no evil…only a lack of good. If this probability is true, then the Ultimate Reconciliation of all is proven correct, since it is the desire that God, in His goodness, desires to save all men – and that is a good thing. It over shadows the evil (or His judgments, chastisements) in this case it is the sins or as some will call it, the mistakes of omission that is judged, and not of commission; since the evil is only a result of the lack of doing what is right.

Philosophers (antinomians) who deny that anything is right or wrong, good or evil for that matter, may be correct. The author of Ecclesiastes apparently had the same thought (Eccl 6:12,7:16-18), yet at the same time God is cited in Scripture as being righteous (Isa 45:19, Hos 14:9). According to Geisler “When we say that you ought not to be cruel”, we really mean “I do not like cruelty”, or “I hate” (Introduction to Philosophy page 353-360) is thereby justifiable when it comes to the sovereignty of God. Perhaps the key words pertaining to this issue should not be what is good or evil, what is right or wrong, concerning the Ultimate Reconciliation of all, but what is preferable. God prefers righteousness because He is the righteous. To cite, as I once did during my undergraduate days in a paper I did concerning the topic of Right and Wrong that “In God there is no evil” is similar to saying “There is no evil in Him, but He knows of it”…Do you see the concept of duality as cited in the words “He knows of it” – thus was my error. Nothing exists outside the sovereignty of God, if it did exist, His sovereignty would be shaken. He choses to make righteous all because what is preferable is better than the option of what is right – damnation/condemnation.

And I would cite that damnation is right for man – For in him there dwelleth no good thing. Just read the daily paper or listen to the 6 o’clock news. Yes, we can commit acts of righteousness and goodness (Matt 5:46, 7:9-11) but even they are considered as filthy rags as quoted by Isaiah, Jesus, & Paul (Isa 1:16-18, 64:6, Matt 7:10, Rom 3:23, 5:6-7).

Yet, I still find my self going around in circles, even as I conduct this article. If I profess that evil does not exist. If I profess that evil is a parasite feasting on the very fabric of all that is good (in this case the lack of it), then that is the same thing as saying when God created everything (including the days of our salvation) the very parasite of evil will, in all probability, continue to exist. A perfect bliss, in all reality, is wishful thinking and therefore the Ultimate Reconciliation of all might be wishful thinking. For salvation to be an considered an established fact, there must be damnation. For damnation to be an established fact, there must be salvation. For goodness and righteousness to exist there must be evil and injustice. Even the Scriptures indicate such as found in Isaiah 9:7 – As the increase of His government grows, it grows juxtapose to judgment and justice; upon which there shall be no end.

A Reconciliationist may cite and claim that such judgments are temporal in nature and purpose. But I say, if that is so, why does the citation of an everlasting righteousness and knowledge increase? The very idea of justice indicates a predecessor. The predecessor, in all likely hood might be the continued damnation upon those of whom the Scriptures refer to. As Reconciliationists we would aspire to the supposition that God is perfect, thus perfect in love, thus creating a perfect after-life. It is a case for optimism.

Or Perhaps justice/righteousness/goodness will increase until all that is evil, negative, sinful, and bad is eradicated by the government of His righteousness and knowledge. But we’ve just read into the theory that evil may not exist. We’ve just read that evil may be the by product of a parasite feasting upon all that is considered an omission.

Perhaps Both Can Continue

Note: There are many other historical suppositions concerning the ontological argument. However, they are of the metaphysical, not of the spiritual. But since the two are, in my opinion, a reflection of the two realities (the spiritual being the truer substance) then the dialogue and dissertations discussed in this field are of high esteem and should be studied. Such dialogues and dissertations can be found at the bottom of this article.

According to Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) a brilliant philosopher who also discovered the calculus independently from Newton, maintained that good and evil can co-inside, and that it was due to the lack of good that evil bears an existence (if any) at all. His main works include his 1710 work, Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l’homme et l’origine du mal (Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil) Leibniz deals with 2 subject matters, they are; The Problem of Evil, and Free will versus determinism.

Leibniz took on this question of theodicy: If God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient, how do we account for the suffering and injustice that exist in the world? Leibniz historically attempts to answer the question that have been made using various arguments, for example, by explaining away evil or reconciling evil with good. The best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz’s theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of evil. Moreover than this, how does the Calvinist or Fundamentalist answer such a question without ultimately doing away with such an unconditional benevolence in the after-life or final judgment?

Again. though Leibniz’ argument is purely based on the metaphysical, we can, nevertheless, apply it to the spiritual, the after-life, or the judgment (the latter depending on your eschatological beliefs).

For Leibniz, an additional central concern is the matter of reconciling human freedom (indeed, God’s own freedom) with the determinism inherent in his own theory of the universe. Leibniz’ solution casts God as a kind of “optimizer” of the collection of all original possibilities: Since He is good and omnipotent, and since He chose this world out of all possibilities, this world must be good – in fact, this world is the best of all possible worlds.

On the one hand, this view might help us rationalize some of what we experience: Imagine that all the world is made of good and evil. The best possible world would have the most good and the least evil. Courage is better than no courage. It might be observed, then, that without evil to challenge us, there can be no courage. Since evil brings out the best aspects of humanity, evil is regarded as necessary. So in creating this world God made some evil to make the best of all possible worlds. On the other hand, the theory explains evil not by denying it or even rationalizing it, but simply by declaring it to be part of the optimum combination of elements that comprise the best possible Godly choice. Leibniz thus does not claim that the world is overall very good, but that because of the necessary interconnections of goods and evils, God, though omnipotent, could not improve it in one way without making it worse in some other way. (J. Franklin, Leibniz’s solution to the problem of evil, Think 5 2003, 97-101).

Giovanni Gentile, in his work The General Theory of Mind as Pure Act, claimed that if God had created everything to fall into line with the most favorable possible condition, it would suppose that all of reality is per-realized and determined in the mind of God.

Imagine God as a huge fire – a fire of love, and you are a small flame in that fire, burning with love as God burns with love. The huge fire doesn’t burn you, it cannot burn you, because you yourself are fire. For you, fire is room temperature, it is your environment, your home. This is heaven. You can experience it now. You have probably experienced it to some degree already.

Now imagine a different scenario, that you are cold. If love is fire, you are an ice cube. You are frozen, cold to God, yourself, your fellow men. How will the fire of love feel to you? It burns! The holy fire of love now burns you, being hundreds of degrees warmer than you. It threatens to overwhelm you, you seek to distance yourself from fire for your survival. But there is no escape. The divine Presence is everywhere, an omnipresent Law, and there is nowhere where UN-lovingness does not create suffering, whether one can disguise the pain or not. This is hell. You can experience it now. You have probably experienced it to some degree already.

However, suppose that instead of trying to flee the fire (which is impossible), you decide to become fire, will it still burn you? Of course not. Both punishment and reward are simply the consequences of moving in either the toward-God or the away-from-God directions. Move toward God, move toward Love, become fire, and “burning” stops; move away from God, away from Love, become cool, and burning increases. We can see that the Judgment may simply be the way things are, since God is love. To love is to be spiritually present with God, to burn with divine love, and enjoy divine Presence. To be unloving is to be spiritually absent from God, hurt by the omnipresent demands of love, and deprived of the benefits of His Presence. It is never called the “last judgment,” but “the last day.” It’s not a punishing verdict, but an eternal principle. The law of love is irrevocable. But as self-inflicted pain, it is “age-long,” aionian. Nothing implies that that there is no longer choice, nor change, nor movement of the soul.

There is far more to the good news than the fact that we can always come back to God. Many scriptures indicate that we all will come back to God, and this is the overwhelming vision of Christian mystics. The words all and every are used dozens of times to indicate the scope of God’s salvation. Apokatastasis (universal restoration) was mentioned in the second sermon of the apostles, “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything.” (Acts 3.21)

Many passages in the apostles’ writings at first glance suggest that belief in Jesus is essential. But the Bible never records the apostles using a threat of “damnation” for not accepting the Gospel. However, when a thorough study is conducted concerning such phases, words – (I.e. eternal), verses of apparent damnation, & the like; they are always in all cases referring to Gods judgments of chastisements, cleansing, & redeemable actions. Paul’s voice speaks especially strongly about universal salvation. Yet Paul also presents Jesus as the “necessary sacrifice” for sin, implying belief in him is mandatory. The reason for this is found in his letters, where he repeatedly explains his dual mission of presenting the Good News to both the Jews and the Gentiles, and adjusting his message to his audiences, “becoming all things to all men.” (1 Cor 9:19-23). His Jewish audiences demanded to know how sacrifice fits into this message, and so, Paul presents Jesus as the only sacrifice needed, the fulfillment of the Law – in this there is no compromise. For Christ Jesus, indeed, is the fulfillment of the the Law (His sacrifce was predicted in the Scriptures-aka-the Writings, the Law, and the prophets. I Cor 15:1-4). To Gentiles, he presents, though I almost hesitate to use such a phrase the ‘Cosmic Christ’, “the Love of God made visible,” (Rom 8.39) reconciling all things in heaven and earth to the Father through selfless love (Eph1:10-11). Though, it should be noted that Paul uses the term ‘Son of God’ to both, Jew and Gentile – with the definite article

God is the Ultimate Reality, he will become the only reality. God will be all in all. This doesn’t mean that consciousness ceases, that we are absorbed into unconscious non-existence, but that we will “become gods,” some will even go so far as to say that we will “become God” – that is, all barriers will be stripped away, and He will permeate and transform every part of Creation. It is the very purpose of the Universe, the meaning of life.

However, the latter per-supposition can create a paradox in relation to the concept of eternity. We can never truly become God, gods yes, but God – how can that be? Since God alone inhabits eternity, how can it be possible that man can achieve such, for lack of a better word, a “thing”, since he had a beginning? Perhaps like temporal judgments, the Ultimate Reconciliation of all can also be of a set duration, a set time, howbeit in this case ages upon ages (a very long time), until our conscience is absorbed into the conscience existence of God – thus becoming obsolete.

But if that theory is correct, our cancellation of existence will in turn cancel God, since all creation is an extension of Him (for we were made in His image & likeness). This concept can raise the question of plurality (as in polytheism – there are many gods) or pantheism (the belief that everything is God).

Perhaps there is some underlying truth to both ideologies, as noted by the following citations:

1. My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is…St. John, I John 3:2

2. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

3. Jesus answered: Is it not written in your Law: I said, you are gods? So the Law uses the word gods of those to whom the word of God was addressed, and scripture cannot be rejected…Jesus, John 10:34-35

4. And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all…St. Paul, I Cor 15:28

5. Now you together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it…St. Paul, I Cor12.27

6. But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to all who believe in the name of him who was born not out of human stock or urge of the flesh or will of man but of God himself…John, 1:12-13

7. You should pray like this: Our Father…Jesus, Matt. 6:9

8. God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them….Genesis 1:27

9…the Spirit and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God. And if we are children we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.” – St. Paul, Rom 8:15-17

10. The Bride is only for the Bridegroom…John the Baptist, John 3:29

11…the two will become one body…This mystery applies to Christ and the Church…St. Paul, Eph 5:31-32

12. You are not a human being having a spiritual experience—you are a spiritual being having a human experience…Wayne Dyer

13. They (those who love him) are the ones he chose specially long ago and intended to become true images of his Son, so that his Son might be the eldest of many brothers…St. Paul Rom 8:29

14. God became man, so that man might become God…Early Christian Proverb

15. I am the vine, you are the branches…Jesus, John 15:5

16. For the Son of God became man, that we might become God…St. Athanasius, De inc.

17. God said to this hairless monkey, “get on with it, become a god.”…C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

18. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit…St. Paul, II Cor 3:17-18

19. I am the light of the world…Jesus, John 8:12 You are the light of the world…Jesus, Matt 5:14

20…if God has made you a son, then he has made you an heir…St. Paul, Gal 4:7

21. The center of the soul is God…St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love

22. The Kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is, ‘ because the kingdom of God is within you…Jesus, Luke 17:20-21, NIV

23. He has called men gods that are deified of His Grace, not born of His Substance…St. Augustine

24. For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the Spirit like God…I Peter 4:6 RSV

25. Know that I am with you always, yes, even to the end of time….Jesus, Matt 28:20

26. “the Word became flesh and the Son of God became the Son of Man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine son ship, might become a son of God”…St. Irenaeus, Adv Haer III 19,1

27. I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works…Jesus, John 14:12

28. Souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their grace to others. Hence comes abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, highest of all, the being made God…St. Basil the Great, On the Spirit.

29. Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known…St. Paul, I Cor 13:12

30. You, therefore, must be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect…Jesus, Matt 5:48

31. Christ has no hands but yours…St. Teresa of Ávila

32. The glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory…St. Paul, Col 1:27

33. (God) said that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him-for we can prevent Him if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for…C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 174-175

34. The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons…From the beginning until now, the entire creation has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free…St. Paul, Rom 8:19, 2

35. Let us become the image of the one whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods…St. Maximus the Confessor

36. May they all be one, Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me, and I am in you, so that the world may believe that it was you who sent me. I have given them the glory which you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realize that it was you who sent me, and that I have loved them as much as you loved me…Jesus, John 17:21-23

37. Let us applaud and give thanks that we have become not only Christians but Christ himself. Do you understand, my brothers, the grace that God our head has given us? Be filled with wonder and joy – we have become veritable Christ’s!…St. Augustine of Hippo

38. He has given us all the things that we need for life and for true devotion, bringing us to know God himself…through them you will be able to share the divine nature…II Peter 1:3-4

39. The Only-begotten Son of God, wanting us to be partakers of his divinity, assumed our human nature so that, having become man, he might make men gods…St. Thomas Aquinas

40. In this way we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, until we become the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself…St. Paul, Ephesians 4:13

41…when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day…2 Thess. 1:10, KJV

42. Souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their grace to others. Hence comes abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, highest of all, the being made God…St. Basil the Great, On the Spirit.

43. “the highest of all things desired is to become God.” – St Basil the Great

44…the fully-trained disciple will always be like his teacher…Jesus, Luke 6:40

45. Morality is indispensable: but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and which calls us to be gods, intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. We are to be remade…we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: a real man, an ageless god, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy…C. S. Lewis, The Grand Miracle, p. 85.

End of citations

However, it must be understood that although the citations quoted above are from some reputable sources; I’m of the persuasion that God is One. God is not a multiplying deity – as in multiplying Himself. I’m sure many of the sources above are not trying to convey a multiplying deity (as many of their doctrines demonstrate). Rather, it is an extension of the absolute, of the True, of the Source, of the Divine, of the Eternal One, of the Christ, of Jesus – the Christ Himself; who now is expanding His Kingdom through the sons and daughters of men – who now have the ability to become ‘children of God’. Adopted into the ‘Family of God’ – where Christ Jesus reigns as the One and Only Lord God & Christ. We are representations of that One image – the image of Christ – thus becoming, for lack of a better phrase, ‘little Christ’s’, gods (as cited above), little sons and daughters of God.

For He (Jesus, Who is the Christ, the Lord Almighty, the One true God) is the First cause, everything else are simply carbon copies of this growing Kingdom – including us, howbeit perfect copies, perfect in likeness, and imagery; but nevertheless always of a created substance.

And this created substance will reign with Him, both Saints & Sinners alike – For a further study on this please see the study called ‘The Children of the Elect and the Children of the Good’

For studies concerning the Deity of Jesus Christ, the Incarnation, or Jesus Christ – The Almighty God; please see my other articles.

Dialogues and Dissertations

1078: St. Anselm, Proslogion. Followed soon after by Gaunilo’s critique In Behalf of the Fool.

1264: St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa. Criticizes an argument which somehow descends from St. Anselm.

1637: Descartes, Meditations. The Objections—particularly those of Caterus and Gassendi—and the Replies contain much valuable discussion of the Cartesian arguments.

c1680: Spinoza, Ethics. Intimations of a defensible mereological ontological argument, albeit one whose conclusion is not (obviously) endowed with religious significance.

1709: Leibniz, New Essays Concerning Human Understanding. Contains Leibniz’s attempt to complete the Cartesian argument by showing that the Cartesian conception of God is not inconsistent.

1776: Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Part IX is a general attack on a priori arguments (both analytic and synthetic). Includes a purported demonstration that no such arguments can be any good.

1787: Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. Contains famous attack on traditional theistic arguments. Three objections to “the ontological argument”, including the famous objection based on the dictum that existence is not a predicate.

1831: Hegel, Lectures of 1831. Hegel makes repeated assertions in these lectures that there is a successful ontological argument, though he nowhere says what the argument actually is. Some scholars have claimed that the entire Hegelian corpus constitutes an ontological argument. Since no one has ever said what the premises of this alleged argument are, there is good reason for skepticism about this scholarly claim.

1884: Frege, Foundations of Arithmetic. Existence is a second-order predicate. First-order existence claims are meaningless. So ontological arguments—whose conclusions are first-order existence claims—are doomed.

1941: Hartshorne, Man’s Vision of God. Defense of modal ontological arguments, allegedly derived from Proslogion 3.

1960: Malcolm, “Anselm’s Ontological Argument”. Defense of modal ontological arguments by a famous ordinary language philosopher.

1970: Lewis, “Anselm and Actuality”. The key critique of ontological arguments. All ontological arguments are either invalid or question-begging; moreover, in many cases, they have two closely related readings, one of which falls into each of the above categories.

1974: Plantinga, The Nature of Necessity. Plantinga’s “victorious” modal ontological argument.

1995: Gödel, Collected Works Volume III. Gödel’s ontological argument.

2004: Sobel, Logic and Theism. Detailed critique of ontological arguments. See, especially, chapters 2–4, pp. 29–167.

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