The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Comparing Existence & Non-Existence, by Dr Hilary Greaves

Has anyone read “Comparing Existence and Non-Existence,” by Dr. Hilary Greaves (of Oxford University)?

The paper concludes with these words.

Have you read this paper Jason?

If you do you’ll find that she’s talking about “the incoherence argument against EC (existence comparison)”–the argument that “it can not be better for person X to exist than it would be for person X not to exist, because if person X didn’t exist there would be no person X for it to be better for”–your argument Jason.

The very argument you used to defend a passage you wrote in a book, to someone going thru the grieving process.

And she says that argument is based on “naivete about the extent to which semantics must mirror surface grammar.”

That naivete is all I’ve tried to point out to you, and every time I have I’ve been accused of being irrational, unfair, and committing category errors (and you’ve defended your own semantics while contradicting yourself right and left.)

Is Dr. Greaves also irrational?

Is she committing a category error when she devotes an entire paper to comparing existence to none existence, and concludes that “The prevailing opinion that the Incoherence Argument is sound is an artefact of naivete about the extent to which semantics must mirror surface grammar”?


I maintain that an actual bride and groom, enjoying marital bliss on their weding night, are currently better off then a possible couple who (for the time being) exist only in the mind of God.

I maintain that the living couple, enjoying the pleasure life can offer, are better off than those who never live, and that saints in heaven will have even more reason to thank their Creator for bringing them into existence (and that such gratitude on their part wont be the result of any category error, or fallacy.)

Why is that illogical?

And if (for the sake of argument) there is no afterlife for animals, why would it be a category error to say that a horse who was suffering would be better off out of it’s misery?

For someone grieving, and facing the ultimate questions in life, it’s actually very important to believe there are states of existence that can be better or worse than non-existence.

Without that belief, hell (whether regarded as eternal or temporary, punitive or remedial) offers no deterent to suicide, and heaven offers no incentive to carry on here.

Nothing could be more dangerous than to convince yourself, or someone else, that existence has no real value when compared to non-existence.

If someone is considering euthanasia, convince him that there are reasons not to put people out of their misery in the same way we shoot horses–but don’t try to convince him that there’s no cruelty in allowing an animal to go on existing in needless pain.

If he’s grieving the loss of a loved one, and considering suicide himself, convince him that the hope of being reunited with his loved one in heaven is worth hanging in here for–but don’t try to tell him that he and his loved one will be no better off in heaven than they would be if God had never created them.

That’s not at all helpful, and I don’t believe it’s true.

And I don’t believe it brings glory to God, or is particularly responsible.

That’s all I’ve tried to point out to you Jason, and time and again you’ve added insult to injury by ignoring what I’ve said, trying to make it sound as though I was saying what you chose to think I was saying, and justifying yourself.

I’m not looking to argue, I’m just asking you to take an oportunity to clarify yourself.

Can you not agree that if “Jason Pratt” exits today, it was always possible for him to exist, and he always existed in the mind of God?

And if you can agree to that, can you not also agree that the “Jason Pratt” we all hope will exist in heaven someday, enjoying all the things that God has prepared for those that love Him, will be better off than the Jason who existed only in the mind of God before you were born?

Can you not agree that you will than (if not now) have real reason to thank your Creator for bringing you into existence?

No category error, no fallacy–real reason to thank your Creator?

I believe we all will (and already have) real reason to thank Him for our creation.

Does no one here agree with me?

If I understand you correctly, I agree with you, and so does all mankind.

Suppose people were given a stark choice, and they knew that one of the following two things would happen without any possibility of doubt:

  1. You can immediately drop dead and simply cease to exist.


  1. You can immediately drop dead and find yourself in Dante’s Inferno and never get out.

Virtually every single person on earth would choose option #1. Everybody knows it’s better to not be than to be in Dante’s Inferno. Only someone not faced with the reality of this choice could possibly argue otherwise.

Thank you Geoffrey.

I appreciate that.

(And I believe you understand what I’m saying here perfectly.)