Edge runs an excerpt of Rebecca Goldstein’s new novel 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, along with the non-fiction appendix outlining those 36 popular arguments and (rather briefly) what’s wrong with them. It mentions, in passing, philosopher Sydney Morgenbesser’s wry inversion of the infamous “Ontological Argument”:
Existence is such a lousy thing, how could God go and do it?
He’s kidding, of course, but it occurs to me that this actually points to a more serious inversion of the real ontological argument that, although it isn’t valid either, strikes me as rather more plausible on face than the original. It might go roughly:
- For every good thing that exists, I can imagine a still better version that does not exist.
- Generalizing, extant things are always less perfect than those that exist only in the imagination.
- God is defined as a supremely perfect entity.
- Therefore God is purely imaginary.
Of course, to say that this one is more plausible than the original is only to say that the original was not at all plausible.