Thursday, March 5, 2015

These things do not exist

This is part of my series on debugging the ontological argument.

In the previous post in the series, I explained why existence is not a predicate.  Or if it is a predicate, then it is tautological and meaningless.

However, here is a rebuttal in song form (song starts at 1:35):

My transcript:
Perfect circles, three-sided squares, and two nested pairs with just one number,
Isaac Newton's fourth law of motion, rivers and oceans on the moon,
Easter Sunday in the fall, and Pope John Paul the sixth or seventh,
Also the last digit of pi, or large dragonflies that eat baboons.

Or what about elves and unicorns, or cranberries grown with pairs of thorns,
Or trash double cheesecakes laced with thorns, these things do not exist.
And don't forget objectivity, and non-oppressive authority,
Or equal opportunity, these things do not exist.

I'm quite impressed with our little list, though I think we missed a thing or two,
So not to sound too over-rehearsed, but we'll sing more verses after this.

So what about life without suffering, or a moment when nobody's dying, or a
Flower immune from withering, oh these things do not exist.
Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, American nuclear arms reduction,
Women safe from my powers of seduction, these do not exist.

Or restaurants in California where you legally can smoke, or pitless peaches, orange celery, or heartless artichokes,
or Chia pets that look like Howard Taft or Howard Stern, the Antarctic Badminton League, or gasoline that does not burn.
Or lengthy treatises on existential thought by dinosaurs, or belly-button-flavored jello, Japanese conquistadors,
September 33rd or 50th or 91st, or flying submarines, or talking plants, or meatless liverwurst.

Or oceanfront property in Zimbabwe, Orthodox Jews that speak God's name Yahweh,
Truffles or mushrooms with vertebrae, these things do not exist.
Or cellular phones from 1910, or monsters in closets, or boogeymen,
or cigarettes without carcinogens, these things do not ex--

Eggs as large as Mars, cherry-flavored cars, ninety string guitars, immortal
armadillos, paint chip pillows, billion kilo cigarillos, real Fox News sans point of views, or fake tattoos held on with screws, or duct tape zoos, or argon shoes, or cheap canoes made from kazoos, or free shampoos from kangaroos,
twelve-handed clocks, magic beanstalks, woodless woodblocks, NASA space walks on Earth, or sock puppets made without any actual socks.

One-line sonnets, eight-legged snakes, and beer-flavored lakes in Minnesota,
Cat-scan goggles, monks singing chants in tight leather pants, and
Finally not least of all, an utterly exhaustive list of things that don't exist!
The above song was inspired by a lovely Dinosaur Comic.

If existence is not a predicate, how do any of the above statements make sense?  Read on to find out.