The Religious A priori

Rational Warrant for Belief

God Cannot Fail to Exist:

Argument form Modes of Being.


I.The Ontological Argument proceeds form understanding the nature of the terms to understanding the reality of the referent of the terms without having to base reality upon empirical observation.

II.Skeptics tend to treat this move as epistemic heresy but they cannot reject the notion that we can ever move from concept to reality of referent, otherwise the entire empistemological project is shot and we have no choice but to retreat into toatl skepticism.

III. Defining God as necessary being cannot be construed defining God into existence for the above reason; if it's the case any fit between concept and referent is defiing that concept into existence thana ll lanague bomes meaningless and no extrapoloation form oberved to non observed reality is possable.


(1)The concept of God is that which can neither fail or cease to exist, nor can it be dependent upon any other entity for its existence.

(2)Subdivisions of the modes of being idcate that this concept can only fall into the category of necessary being.

(3) The concept of God fits the category of necessary being and no other category; no other eneity fits the category of necessary being; nothing else purely necessary without also being contingent at the same time.

(4)The actuality of the category cannot be merely possible. Becker's modal postulate:Becker Postulate necessity obtains.

That is, if something is possible, then it is necessarily possible. Example: <>A -> []<>A. If A is possibly true, then it is necessary that A is possibly true.

In other words, unless it is imossible for anything to fill the category, which would could only be due to logical contradiction, the possilbity of fulfillment means the certaity of it becasue necessity cannot be merely contingent. It it were merely possible, it would be contingent.

(5) Therefore, God must exist as an actuality.

If we think about the most basic categories into which being falls, we find that there are only two and those can each be subdivided twice. They might be subdivided infinitely, but are two basic categories:

In other words, a think might exist in one of two modes, either independently, not taking its existence from any prior thing, being caused by or otherwise arising from association with prior conditions of some kind.

These two modes are as follows:

(1) Necessity
(2) Contingency

each one subdivided, such that:

(3) Necessity divided into either (a) actuality or (b) impossibility

(4) Contingency divided into either (a) actuality, or (b) fiction

Thus we have this:

(1) Necessity:

(a)actuality (really exists)

(b) impossibility (logical contradiction)

(2) Contingency:

(a) actuality

(b) fiction

We can see at once that the necessity and contingency categories form major headings and the other two categories are subsets.

Mode Actuality Negative Actuality
Necessity Necessary Being Impossibility
Contingency Contingent existence fiction

What this means is, there are two major modes of existence, a thing can exist either contingently or necessarily. There is no third alternative. Nothing can exist in the middle. These are the two most basic alternatives. under those two each has two more alternatives, which I call "attitudes." Positive, because it deals with actual existence, and negative, which deals with things that don't exist. Necessary negative attitude is impossibility (meaning logical contradiction). Necessary positive attitude, is necessary being, such as God.

The contingent negativity is "fiction" because fictional things don't actually exist in the world as they are, but only the mind as an idea. There is also contingent posative, which is contingent existence. To examples we might find a chart like this:

Necessary pos God
Necessary neg square circles
Contingent pos everything actual
Contingent neg Santa Clause, IPU, tooth fairy

The curious thing about this chart, two things:

(1) Since God is by definition necessary God can only fit in the Necessary Positive slot.

(2) The Necessary positive slot has to have something in it, it cannot be a null set.

(3) God can't fit into the contingency slot, because we are not talking about God if it's contingent.

(4) Doesnt' fit into the impossible slot because it's self contrdictory

(5) Doesn't fit the fictional slot because that's a subset of contingency.

that would seem to suggest that God must exist and cannot fail to exist.

Let's look at some crucial questions:

*How do we know Necessary Being is not a null set?

Becker's modal postulate Becker Postulate necessity obtains. That is, if something is possible, then it is necessarily possible. Example: <>A -> []<>A. If A is possibly true, then it is necessary that A is possibly true.

The skeptic will argue that God could fail to exist and thus would be placed in the impossible category. To say "but there is no reason why God should be impossible because the concept of God does not contradict," is not the point. God might just happen not to exist. Then would not be in the contingency category but in the impossibility category. Thus all the argument proves is that if God, God exists necessarily.

In other words the category is just a null set.


(1)Category of necessary being cannot be a null set

(a) if necessary being were a null set the only actual being would be
contingent being
(b) it is logically absurd to think of a contingency without necessity.

(c) Therefore, something must occupy the category of necessary being.

(2) It is possible that something would fill the category. But if it did, it couldn't be merely possible because necessary being can't be merely possible or it's not necessary. Thus the set cannot be null unless it is necessarly null and that can't be proven.
Could it be the case that necessary being just happens not to exist? If the concept of God is not contradictory, it's not impossible. At that point there is no reason to suppose that it just happens not to exist. If just happened not exist that would mean that we are talking about a contingency because it cannot be that a necessity just happens not to exist. That is the same as saying it could cease of fail, which is part of the definition of contingency.

The Religious A priori