Originally Posted by basman
What a pile of obscurantist horsehit and sheer mystification in hiding behind the impenetrability of ancient philosophers.
Repeat one of their convincing, high order arguments for the existence of God, and I, with no formal training in philosophy save for a couple of undergraduate courses, will be happy to disassemble it for you.
As if any of these old dudes, regardless of the high order of their logic, has anything meaningful to say to us today on the existence of God.
You need to distinguish between the beauty of self contained systems of elegant argument and their inutility when they have nothing to tell us about the world.
The impenetrability of ancient philosophers is not quite to the point (and Aquinas and Anselm are not technically ancient, they are Medieval). Most of the problem comes from translating the medieval style of speechand argument into modern parlance. The problem is not just found in philosophy by the way. Try reading the work of Newton or Euler. The style of mathematical writing is far different from today and quite opaque. There is no strong commitment to symbolism, and the use of infinitesimals by Newton is often tough to follow. That has nothing to do with content, though.
It's not hard to disassemble any argument for God's existence because you can simply declare the axioms to be false. I do not think the interesting part lies in the fact that specific arguments can be problematized, but that deductively valid proofs can be formed demonstrating the existence of God (actually Gödel's proof shows God to exist necessarily
, which is even stronger) from fairly weak premises. This is very weird, ordinarily existence proofs are only available in mathematical sciences. At any rate, they are an intellectual achievement.
Another thing, I do not think you understand what is meant by higher-order logic. It means, roughly, that you can apply predicates to predicates. The statement "It is good that one treat's people fairly" is a decent example of a second-order sentence, since you are applying the predicate "is good" to the other predicate "treating people fairly." Higher-order logic is not as straightforward as the first-order case, where predicates only apply to objects, hence the difficulty of the Gödel proof.