The Best Pizza is…
I’ll start by alienating more than half of the people who read this: I want pineapple on my pizza.
You say it’s gross, I say it’s a modern take on a classic flavor archetype. Sweet and salty were meant to be together; why not on pizza? I’ve had this in different forms, like cantaloupe and prosciutto (yes, on pizza!), and I just saw an ad for a blueberry and sausage pizza that made my mouth water.
The best pizzas have fruit.
Now that I have convinced a good portion of you that I’m a monster, you might be wondering what’s the point here? Let me back up and we’ll come back to pizzas in a minute.
God Exists Because He Can?
Intelligent people have made arguments for the existence of some deity for quite some time. St. Anselm of Canterbury (1034-1109) was one of these. He thought of an argument for the existence of God that has inspired vehement criticism and defense since. Basically, he said that if it is even possible that God exists, then he exists.
If that doesn’t make sense or seem to work to you, you’re not alone. It took me about three years of thinking about it on and off to get to a point where it even made sense to me.
A version that is a bit more expanded that I found easier to grasp is presented by Alvin Plantinga in his book, The Nature of Necessity. Here’s a summary of his argument:
1) It is possible that a maximally great being exists.
2) If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
3) If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
4) If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
5) If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists.
6) Therefore, a maximally great being exists.
There are some steps and concepts here that are really quite tricky to get a hold of, but suffice it to say that this is probably the best version of the argument out there right now.
So, What Does This Have To Do With Pizza?
One of the most popular ways of trying to show that Plantinga’s argument doesn’t work is to parody it. Take this example:
1) It is possible that a maximally great pizza exists.
2) If it is possible that a maximally great pizza exists, then a maximally great pizza exists in some possible world.
3) If a maximally great pizza exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
4) If a maximally great pizza exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
5) If a maximally great pizza exists in the actual world, then a maximally great pizza exists.
6) Therefore, a maximally great pizza exists.
By replacing being with pizza we now have an argument that is obviously foolish.
There is no such thing as a maximally great pizza; no one could never agree on what makes a pizza maximally great! I want pineapple, my wife wants bacon (which is just way too much salt for a pizza), and there are some weirdos who want anchovies. Some people want a thin Neapolitan style pizza, others want a lasagna-esque Chicago style pizza. Personally, I love both, so how could I say which one is greater? The idea of a maximally great pizza is incoherent because the great-making properties of a pizza are completely subjective.
So, What About God?
Fortunately for those who like Plantinga’s argument, while this parody sounds convincing, the analogy doesn’t really hold water.
Unlike pizzas, beings have great-making properties with intrinsic maximums.
What this means is that the characteristics that make a being great can be maxed out. Unfortunately, this is not the case for pizzas because of the subjectivity of their characteristics. Beings have characteristics that are objectively greater.
For instance, being powerful is intuitively greater than being weak, and if we max that out, we have a being that is all-powerful, or omnipotent. We can do the same for presence, knowledge, morality, and existence to end up with a description of a being that is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, morally perfect, and necessarily existent (as opposed to contingently existent, but I’ll have to tackle that later).
The qualities described here would be necessary characteristics of a maximally great being, which unlike pineapples, are objective great-making qualities.
You Can Have Your Pizza and Eat It Too
So what’s the upshot? While I have quite a bit more work to do to convince anyone that this argument is sound, it’s safe to say that parodies do not discredit it.
Anything that we might use to parody this argument will lack objective great-making qualities with the intrinsic maximums I described above. While we have a lot more to dig through with this argument, just remember; if you hear someone parody it, you can explain intrinsic maximums and how this distinguishes a maximally great being from a pizza.
Once your conversation is done, buy them a slice of their favorite pizza!