• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the ontological argument

Extracts from this document...


Assess the Ontological Argument Ontological arguments for God's existence are said to be deductive i.e. if we accept the premise, then the conclusion follows as a necessary truth (cannot be denied without contradiction). Ontological arguments are also founded upon purely a priori knowledge of God, as opposed to the four other types of argument which all use inductive reasoning and a posteriori knowledge. Ontological arguments are therefore favoured by rationalist theologians e.g. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) rather than more empiricist philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas, (1225-1274) whose arguments are all based on a posteriori knowledge and use inductive reasoning. St. Anselm (1033-1109) put forward the first ontological argument in his book Proslogian, but it was only later named the ontological argument by Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804). This first version is as follows: P1. God exists in the understanding as "that than which nothing greater can be conceived." ...read more.


even more beautiful women in bikinis) and so it's existence is contingent i.e. possible to deny without contradiction. "God cannot be conceived not to exist...That which can be conceived not to exist is not God." - Proslogian, Ch 3. Ren´┐Ż Descartes (1596-1650) also constructed an ontological argument similar to Anselm's: P1. God is the supremely perfect being. P2. A supremely perfect being contains all supreme perfections. P3. Existence is a supreme perfection. C. Therefore God exists. As with Anselm, Descartes believed that existence was a necessary predicate of God. "From the fact that I cannot conceive of God without existence, it follows that existence is inseparable from him..." Kant however disagreed with the logic of the ontological argument. He believed that even if we accept the statement "God exists" as an analytic one, we can still deny the existence of both the subject and the predicate together, even if we cannot separate one another. ...read more.


In conclusion, despite the deductive nature of Anselm and Descartes' ontological arguments, (although this is itself questionable) it seems unlikely that an atheist will ever be convinced by the logic (no matter how clever) of simply defining something into existence. On the other hand, Karl Barth (1886-1968) claimed that Anselm was not actually trying to prove God's existence, but rather was attempting to explore His nature. "I do not seek to understand so that I may believe, but believe in order to understand." - Anselm, Proslogian 1. To the theist, this would seem extremely important, for since God is unlike anything else (in that His existence and His essence are one) it would appear that He cannot be known a posteriori. Thus, the a priori ontological argument could be the only way in which to have any real understanding of God. After taking this into account, it seems that Anselm's use of philosophical analysis to try and understand God, but not to try and prove Him, places faith somewhere between reason and opinion, just as Aquinas once claimed. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Christianity section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Christianity essays

  1. Discuss whether the ontological argument would convince an atheist

    If our island is truly the most excellent, it cannot have the inferiority that comes from being a concept only - therefore it must exist in reality. But clearly, there is no such island in reality. We cannot bring something into existence just by defining it as superlative.

  2. Outline the cosmological argument for the existance of God. and plan.

    The argument states that the universe exists, and nothing that exists can not have a cause. It rejects the ideas of an 'actual infinite' which is the idea everything in time can predate itself. It says that to be where we are in the universe now that we must have

  1. The controversy that is evolution. I shall start with the argument against evolution.

    Darwin missed the point, its not so much the points of similarity that makes the line of descent, it is more a few points of dissimilarity that breaks the lines, and makes a species different (8, page 728). Here we seem to have a point being made and then another


    From the beginning of Galatians 5, Paul exerts zealousness in order to put the message across which shows his fervent nature; "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. "(Gal 5v1) The ambiguities of such a verse are clear, it seems like an obvious verse to such an

  1. Examine the main ideas and strengths of the design argument for the existence of ...

    The existence and regular behaviour of material objects provide good evidence for the existence of God, says Swinburne. God made an orderly world to make it suitable as possible for humans.

  2. Outline the cosmological argument for the existence of God.

    Aristotle also put forth the idea of a First Cause, often referred to as the "Prime Mover" or "Mover" in his work Metaphysics. For Aristotle too, as for Plato, the underlying essence of the Universe always was in existence and always would be (which in turn follows Parmenides' famous statement that "nothing can come from nothing").

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work