Best Humorous Argument for God

From Jeff Cook:

We know God exists because of great beer.

Don’t discount the Ontological argument just because you think you can imagine the perfect island. The ontological argument has real bite when you marry it with fine ales. Open your mind for a moment, and you may reply as Bertrand Russell once did, “Great God in boots!—the ontological argument is sound!”

Behold…

  1. Beers that exist are greater than beers that do not exist, and as such existence is a great-making property.
  2. If God exists, God is the greatest conceivable being.
  3. Let’s assume the greatest conceivable being does not exist.
  4. If (3) than there is something greater than the greatest conceivable being.
  5. (4) is a contradiction, so (3) is false.

God exists and we know this because of great beers.

Contrary to Kant, every philosopher I know believes that beers that exist are greater than beers that do not exist. It would be offensive to humanity, the Rolling Stones, and your grandmother to deny Premise 1.

Because no philosopher actually believes a non-existent beer is equal in standing to one’s real beer of choice, “existence” is a great making property.

Great God in boots, Indeed!

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Amen & Prost! Or is it Prost and Amen?

    BTW, if Fine Ales prove that God exists, stouts prove that He is good.

  • http://rising4air.wordpress.com MikeK

    Half and Half (or Black and Tan) is a great example for the hypostatic union of Christ…

  • Fernando

    And wine too, of course. In fact, making food taste good has got to be one of God’s best ideas.

  • Craig

    The existence of empty space in one’s pint glass is worse than its non-existence. So, by parity of reasoning, existence is a bad-making property. Since a great-making property isn’t a bad-making property, existence can’t be a great-making property. :)

  • http://www.metanoia123.com Joel Ken

    Even though you put Anselm on alcohol… my head still hurts. One time I completely had it… and then I lost it.

    Will continue to ponder.

  • bert

    Can we use bourbon instead of beer or would that make me some sort of heretic?

  • Joe Canner

    This reminds me of the Monty Python “Australian Philosophers” skit and song…

  • unapologetic catholic

    So God is Belgian?

  • scotmcknight

    #8, or Scottish (as in The Macallan)?

  • http://burnsfamilyatprojectsalt.wordpress.com Daran G. Burns

    Biere de Mars – So as much as my Scottish heritage hates to admit it, God must be Belgian.

  • http://www.beingfilled.com/ Chuck McKnight

    I don’t believe this is logically sound, because #4 is not a contradiction. The fact that something is conceivable does not mean that it actually does exist. I could conceive of any number things that would be greater than beer if they did exist but nonetheless do not exist.

  • RJS

    As I have never liked beer – I find the first premise to be false. Beers that exist are no greater than beers that do not exist. If anything it is the other way around.

    Now coffee …

    (And one could construct a valid argument using wine … this isn’t an alcohol thing, it is a taste thing.)

    I’ll duck from the flying tomatos.

  • Craig

    So RJS’s perceptions are demonstrably not truth-conducive. May this wake her from her dogmatic slumber.

  • Bill

    L’Chaim! That’s what I say as I raise a toast to the Lord with a lager in my hand; or a praise to the Word of God with a glass of wine.

    Shabbat shalom v’ l’chaim.

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Craig (4). You wrote, “The existence of empty space in one’s pint glass is worse than its non-existence. So, by parity of reasoning, existence is a bad-making property. Since a great-making property isn’t a bad-making property, existence can’t be a great-making property.”

    Existence of empty space = non-existence. But how can something be worse than itself?

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Chuck (11) You wrote, “I don’t believe this is logically sound, because #4 is not a contradiction. The fact that something is conceivable does not mean that it actually does exist. I could conceive of any number things that would be greater than beer if they did exist but nonetheless do not exist.”

    You are actually deny premise 1 not 4, ya? I put forward an argument for existnece as a great making property. What say you?

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    RJS (12). Quite right. Pick your beverage of choice and apply.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Jeff @ 17 – now that seems to much like Polytheism/pluralism…. :)

  • Craig

    @Jeff Cook #15: If existence is a bad-making property then the existence of non-existence would render non-existence bad. Now bad-non-existence could be worse than non-existence. Clearly. :)

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Craig (19). I can reject that existence is a bad-making property. In fact, Premise 1 argues the opposite, ya? Peace.

  • Craig

    Have it your way: let existence be a good-making property. Existing non-existence becomes good-non-existence. Now what’s better than non-existence? Answer: good-non-existence. Correlatively, non-existence is worse than good-non-existence. Therefore, some non-existence is worse than non-existence.

    Way too much at stake here for peace Jeff. :)

  • http://lisesletters.wordpress.com Lise

    This is really funny, as are the responses!

  • Kyle

    Well, if a rather thirsty man barges into the bar and swipes said manifest and merry-making beer from you, Mr. Cook, we’d say that this man’s non-existence would be preferable to his existence, no? His creation has done you no favors, and so we now have two principle ways understanding how existence changes value (one imbues, the other diminishes). And without a guiding principle to handle these opposing ideas, we’re stuck with a questionably applicable analogy and therefore far from logical sufficiency. Or would you somewhat existentially suggest that the answer may float to the surface only while staring at a few emptied mugs (best had at a bar prior to the one in question on account of the thief in question)?

  • Erik K

    The argument is based upon premise 1 that existence is a great-making property. This assumes that the existence in question is great. Does premise 1 hold true if the existence in question is a negative one.

    Cancer that exists is worse than cancer that does not exist, and as such existence is a worse-making property.

  • Luke Wassink

    I do find this version more convincing. It seems to me that beer could also be used convincingly with the beauty argument! Two thoughts:

    1) Doesn’t your first point only illustrate that existence is a great-making property for beer? Surely it doesn’t show that any possible thing would be made greater by existing. I’m not a philosopher, so I may be missing something. Am I?

    2) It seems to me that greatness is only a property of real things. Hypothetical great things would be great if they existed, however as long as they don’t exist, they are neither great nor not great. Thus it doesn’t seem meaningful to compare the greatness of real things to that of hypothetical things unless one has some prior way of knowing that the hypothetical things (i.e. the greatest thing conceivable) exist. Is there some metaphysical way to deal with this problem?

  • Jon G

    Erik K @ #24 and others bringin up the “greatness” point.

    In this argument, I don’t believe greatness refers to our value of what is great or isn’t great. It refers to the object’s point of view on value. In other words, from Cancer’s point of view (if we were to anthropamorphisize it) it is greater to exist than to not exist. Whethere we prefer it didn’t exist is besides the point. We have to remove our subjective value judgement from the _______ that is placed into Premise #1.


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