Rethinking the Argument

There is an overlooked argument that infers the existence of God from the fact that we desire Him to exist.  

More formally, I think, the argument goes something like this:

  1.  If humans generally desire x, then it is possible to satisfy this desire.  (Premise 1)
  2.  Humans generally desire communion with God.  (Premise 2)
  3.  Therefore, communion with God is possible.  (From 1, 2)
  4. Communion with God is only possible if God exists.  (Premise 3)
  5.  Therefore, God exists.  (From 3, 4)

The weakest premise here is 1.  Why accept 1?  Perhaps there are general desires that cannot be satisfied.  Perhaps humans have minds that make us  want things that cannot be had (eternal life or everlasting pleasure, etc.)  What support can be given for 1?

Let’s rework the argument with a weaker first premise:

1*.  If humans generally desire x, then it is logically possible to satisfy this desire.

This is a much weaker claim.  The claim is only that our desires are not for logically impossible things our desires are minimally rational.  If we desire a contradiction (to eat cake and not eat cake) then there are actually two desires here.  One pro-cake desire.  And one anti-cake desire.  Each desire considered in itself, however, is a desire that can be logically satisfied.

Now if God exists, then God exists necessarily.  So if God does not exist, then it is logically impossible for God to exist.  That is, God either exists in all possible worlds or none.  His existence is either a necessary truth (like 1+1=2) or a logical impossibility (like 1+1=3).  No third option is possible.

Since God is a necessary being (if He exists at all) we get an interesting inference:  If God’s existence is merely logically possible, then it is actual.  Why?  Because if God does not exist, then he cannot exist.  His existence is impossible.  So if his existence is even logically possible, then it must be actual.  (A moments reflection will make this clear.)  Thus, one who believes that God does not actually exist must believe the stronger claim that God’s existence is logically impossible.

Okay.  So if these claims are right, then we can fix the argument from desire along these lines:

1.*  If humans generally desire x, then it is logically possible to satisfy this desire.  (Premise 1)

  1.  If God exists, then God is a necessary being.  (Premise 2)
  2.  If God is logically possible, then God exists.  (From line 2)
  3.  Humans generally desire communion with God.  (Premise 3)
  4.  Therefore, communion with God is logically possible.  (From lines 1*, 4)
  5.  Therefore, God’s existence is logically possible.  (From line 5)
  6.  But if God’s existence is logically possible, then God exists.  (Restatement of line 3)
  7.  Thus, God exists.  (From lines 6, 7)

So does this argument work?  Maybe, but I am still a bit skeptical of even the new Premise 1.  Why must it be that we cannot desire the logically impossible?  Consider the case of the Goldbach Conjecture.  This is a claim in number theory which has not been proven either true or false.  If the conjecture is true, then it is necessary.  If it is false, then it is likewise necessary.  So imagine two mathematicians.  One who desires it to be true and one who desires it to be false.  One of these two mathematicians has a desire that it is logically impossible to satisfy.  Is this so hard to imagine?  So I am skeptical of even the weakened first premise here.  Perhaps the argument could work as a probabilistic inference ?