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Outline the ontological argument. The ontological argument is based on the idea that the very fact that we have a concept of God must mean that He exists.

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Introduction

1 (a) (i) Outline the ontological argument The ontological argument is based on the idea that the very fact that we have a concept of God must mean that He exists. One key contributor for the ontological argument is St Anselm of Canterbury. He was a medieval Italian theologian and philosopher who was once Archbishop of Canterbury. He proposed a famous version of the ontological argument. The ontological argument is an example of an a priori argument; it seeks to prove the existence of God from the understanding on the definition of the God of classical theism. Anselm has two parts to his version of the ontological argument, the first stating that God is 'that than which no greater can be thought' and the second being Anselm developing on this argument and demonstrating that God's existence is necessary. ...read more.

Middle

Anselm makes a distinction between an object 'in one's' understanding and 'to understand' that the object exists. This means that there is a difference between saying that something exists in understanding and that someone believes in it, for example, unicorns exist in people's understanding but people know that they do not actually exist. Anselm argued that according to the definition of God, if God exists in the mind (in intellectu) then a greater being must exist in both the mind and in reality (in re.) As God is something that which nothing greater can be conceived and the greater though is God means that in conclusion God must exist. Anselm uses his power of reason to prove that God exists- reduction ad absurdum. ...read more.

Conclusion

If God is necessary then there is no possibility of him not existing. Anselm says that we know that God's existence is necessary because nothing greater than God can be thought, to be thought not to exist would be inferior to thinking of something that must always exist and therefore God has necessary existence. Anselm explains the difference between the believer and the fool (atheist,) he says that the fool knows the word God but does not know God himself. Whereas, the believer can understand that because God is the greatest being ever to be though of then this means he must exist. Anselm believes that humans are contingent beings, which means we might never have been and can be added to or change. We may not have ever existed and we can also die whereas God is perfect by definition and cannot be changed. He is a necessary being and has a cause. ...read more.

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