Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Stephen Grover

Committee Members

Graham Priest

Peter Simpson

Nickolas Pappas

Robert Lovering

Subject Categories

Metaphysics | Other Philosophy


God, Problem of Evil, Ontological Argument, Contingency Argument, Possibility, Necessity


This dissertation is a revival of the ontological disproof, an ontological argument against the existence of God. The ontological disproof, in its original form, argues that God is impossible, because if God exists, he must exist necessarily, and necessary existence is impossible. The notion of necessary existence has been largely rehabilitated since this argument was first offered in 1948, and the argument has accordingly lost much of its force. I argue that the ontological disproof ought to be combined with the problem of evil, and that the resulting synthesis of the two arguments is far more powerful than either element could be alone. The argument is this: if God exists, then he exists necessarily. This necessary existence entails that the mere possibility of a state of affairs incompatible with God’s essential qualities, his perfect goodness and omnipotence, renders God impossible. The possibility of evil incompatible with God does exactly that. This simple argument has remarkable range: it serves as an ontological argument against the existence of God, but it can also serve as a new form of the problem of evil, allowing the resolution of that problem to rest on the mere possibility of evil incompatible with God. It can also serve as a contingency argument against the existence of God: God must be a necessary being to adequately explain the existence of the contingent world, but cannot be. This one argument, which I call the ontological problem of evil, can thus demonstrate the metaphysical impossibility of God from several directions simultaneously.