Twenty Arguments for God – Four – The Argument from Degrees of Perfection

This post is one of a serious that picks apart the arguments for god that can be found at the link below. This post addresses number 4:

If you don’t want to click over there to read it, the full argument goes like this:

4. The Argument from Degrees of Perfection

We notice around us things that vary in certain ways. A shade of color, for example, can be lighter or darker than another, a freshly baked apple pie is hotter than one taken out of the oven hours before; the life of a person who gives and receives love is better than the life of one who does not.
So we arrange some things in terms of more and less. And when we do, we naturally think of them on a scale approaching most and least. For example, we think of the lighter as approaching the brightness of pure white, and the darker as approaching the opacity of pitch black. This means that we think of them at various “distances” from the extremes, and as possessing, in degrees of “more” or “less,” what the extremes possess in full measure.
Sometimes it is the literal distance from an extreme that makes all the difference between “more” and “less.” For example, things are more or less hot when they are more or less distant from a source of heat. The source communicates to those things the quality of heat they possess in greater or lesser measure. This means that the degree of heat they possess is caused by a source outside of them.
Now when we think of the goodness of things, part of what we mean relates to what they are simply as beings. We believe, for example, that a relatively stable and permanent way of being is better than one that is fleeting and precarious. Why? Because we apprehend at a deep (but not always conscious) level that being is the source and condition of all value; finally and ultimately, being is better than nonbeing. And so we recognize the inherent superiority of all those ways of being that expand possibilities, free us from the constricting confines of matter, and allow us to share in, enrich and be enriched by, the being of other things. In other words, we all recognize that intelligent being is better than unintelligent being; that a being able to give and receive love is better than one that cannot; that our way of being is better, richer and fuller than that of a stone, a flower, an earthworm, an ant, or even a baby seal.
But if these degrees of perfection pertain to being and being is caused in finite creatures, then there must exist a “best,” a source and real standard of all the perfections that we recognize belong to us as beings.
This absolutely perfect being—the “Being of all beings,” “the Perfection of all perfections”—is God.
Question 1: The argument assumes a real “better.” But aren’t all our judgments of comparative value merely subjective?
Reply: The very asking of this question answers it. For the questioner would not have asked it unless he or she thought it really better to do so than not, and really better to find the true answer than not. You can speak subjectivism but you cannot live it

Anyone else think that this is one long meander to a signpost that reads ‘The question has been begged.’?

The whole of this argument can be rephased as follows…

We subjectively rate things in the world as better or worse, therefore there exists an objective ‘best’.

The assertion doesn’t follow. There are several steps that have been skipped and the author has exhibited extreme laziness is not bothering to address them, probably hoping that no one will notice.

Weather it’s food, movies or what benefits our fellow human beings, what we as individuals call good is based on our individual preferences, this is evidenced by the differing tastes each person has and by the actions that come from them. If there was an objective goodness that magically motivated our souls, would there not be evidence in the form of some indivuals having exactly the same outlook? Yet, that evidence simply isn’t there.

With that in mind I’m going to rephrase the final sentence from the argument for your amusement.

You can believe objectivism, but you cannot demonstrate it.

17 thoughts on “Twenty Arguments for God – Four – The Argument from Degrees of Perfection

  1. It is from this proof that I developed The God Equation.

    The concept is taught in basic university biology courses and concerns life.

    That is, the degree of order increases and increases and increases until life comes into being.

    In philosophy, God is order at the level of infinity.

      • Limey,

        The proofs of God’s exists are proofs.

        They were reduced to arguments by atheists in order to reduce their credibility.

        If you didn’t presupposed that God does not exist, you would be able to understand these proofs.

        Just imagine that you hadn’t taken it upon yourself to wink God out of existence.

        Then you could think about the proofs with an open mind and then you would be able to understand them.

        The proof you are covering today is consistent with mathematics (1st semester calculus) and biology.

        • Someone saying god exists is not proof that god exists. Only someone who presupposes that god must exist would think otherwise.

          I’m not calling the argument an argument, the author is.

          The argument being addressed here has no relevance to maths or biology.

          My position on the existence of god is not one of presupposing non existence, it’s that pending evidence for it’s existence, there is no good reason to suppose one exists. There is a difference, though I suspect the subtlety will be lost on you and your bearded new best friend from the previous posts.

      • Atheist,

        That is a great topic for philosophical discussion.

        Nevertheless, man has already evolved.

        We are as far as it goes, and since God is spirit there is no way for any form of life to evolve its physical body out of existence.

        Such an occurrence would be contradictory to evolution which has nothing to do with spirituality.

        • “there is no way for any form of life to evolve its physical body out of existence.”

          I don’t think there is anybody who suggests otherwise, well maybe New Agers. The truth of that statement does not depend on the existence of any god. What that has to do with the argument that is the subject of this blog post is unclear.

  2. Anyone else think that this is one long meander to a signpost that reads ‘The question has been begged.’?

    That’s pretty much the problem with all arguments for God.

    • Neil,

      Most of the proofs for the existence of God are based on the fact that everything just doesn’t happen all by itself.

      That isn’t begging the question. That is simple common sense.

      Today’s proof demands a little more imagination and rational thought, both of which must be thrown out the window in order to be an atheist.

      Today’s proof is used by biologists to conceptualize the development of life on earth.

      Science does not beg the question.

      Which means atheism that atheism also demands the rejection of modern science.

      You people are peddling raw ignorance.

      • Today’s argument is based on the unfounded assumption that there is a source of objective rightness or ‘good’. The development of life on earth is not relevant to that assumption.

        • Limey that there is an objective sense of good or righ is common sense. Since atheism demands the rejection of common sense it is no wonder you do not understand any of the proofs.

            • Limey,

              It is obvious that items progress from cheap to expensive.

              That is because quality progresses from poor quality to excellent quality.

              The proof asks the reader to imagine the progression from poor quality to excellent quality to infinitely excellent quality.

              Infinitely excellent quality would be God.
              Just pick some analogy like that, which is understandable to you and use it to understand the proof.

              • “It is obvious that items progress from cheap to expensive.”

                A context is required for that statement, in isolation it is meaningless and can not be accepted as true.

                Arguments are not proof.

      • Most of the proofs for the existence of God are based on the fact that everything just doesn’t happen all by itself.

        No. They are based on the false assumption that the only alternative to God is everything just happening by itself.

        And that is question begging.

        Today’s proof is used by biologists to conceptualize the development of life on earth.

        Nonsense. Biologists use actual evidence.

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