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Does God Exist?

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Does God Exist? A Critical overview on the Ontological Argument Before one can even begin to critique the ontological argument to God's existence, one must understand exactly what ontological is. Ontological is an area of philosophy that studies the nature of existence or being as such. The Ontological argument is based on the very being of god. Basically ontological arguments are arguments from nothing but analytic, a priori and necessary premises to the conclusion that God exists. The ontological argument is most commonly associated with St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, AD 1093 to 1109. Anselm argues that we can conceive God as "a being than which none grater can be conceived." Yet, if we conceive such a being as existing only in the understanding, a greater being could be conceived, namely, one that also exists in reality. Anselm's strategy, then is to move from the admission that we have a concept of "a being than which none greater can be conceived" to the conclusion that God cannot be conceived not to exist. Below are Anselm's own words, quoted from Proslogion, chapter 2, 1078. "we believe that God is a being than which none greater can be thought. Now even a fool knows that 'a being which none greater can be thought' exists at least in his mind. But clearly, 'that than which a greater cannot be thought' cannot exist in the mind alone. It could be thought of as existing in reality as well, and that would be greater. In which case, 'that than which a greater cannot be thought' would be that than which a greater can be though! Since this is impossible, there obviously exists, both in the mind and in reality, something than which a greater cannot be thought." The words of Anselm are rather complicated. But in short `God' refers to the perfect being. But if this did not exist, it would not be perfect. ...read more.


The Ontological Argument is a 'priori argument' this means that the conculsion comes not from the use of reason or proof but if the premises that are put into the argument are true, then the conclusion must be true. This means that if I know what the definition of something is, I do not then need a test to determine the truth or falsity of a statement. For example, I understand what a triangle is, it has three angles that add up to 180 degrees. I do not need any evidence to prove the truth in the statement a triangle has three angles. Anselm defined God as: 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived.' This is a valid definition, for if you are an atheist or a theist then you have some kind of 'intuitive understanding of the concept of God. God is by definition, 'greater than which can be concieved,' through this definition, Anslem attempts to prove that not only does God exist in the mind but also in reality. Anselm uses the example of "the fool" to prove his point on God's existence. He says that when "the fool" says that "There is no God" in Psalms, he must therefore understand what he hears , and what he understands in his intellect by the term "God". Therefore, if he knows what God is, God must exist as it is impossible to know what something is if it does not exist. There are two types of existence, we can concieve things that exist in reality, but we can also concieve things that do not. It could be argued that Spiderman exists; if not exactly how we concieve him, it is logically possible that he could exist. The fact that we are able to concieve such a being who is capable of performing acts that morals are not, at least points out that there is a possibility that he exisits. ...read more.


He added that this cause must be a "being". Beings either exist or they don't. There is no reason to suppose that the world has to exist. But it does exist. Therefore something which causes the world must necessarily exist. As he put it, "Necessary reality is always actual. It is never balanced between existing and not existing." A necessary being can't logically be caused by any other being. If it were, then the other being would be the necessary one. This being is one which has "of itself its own necessity" owing nothing outside itself existing before anything else did. An essential property of a necessary being is eternality. If then it could be made plausible that the universe began to exist and is not therefore eternal, one would to that extent at least have shown the superiority of theism as a rational world view. This higher being is thought to be God, and therefore God is necessary in order to cause the universe. Rene Descartes asked what happens if everything is doubted - even one's own existence. He thought that the "I" of which each one of us is aware when we think is the one thing of which we can be certain. Hence his famous dictum, "I think, therefore I am." He went on to wonder "...from whom could I ... derive my existence" if there is no God? If I exist then my existence "... requires the same power and act that would be necessary to create it ..." Just as we think and therefore exist, so there must be an ultimate Thinker from whom all existence derives. This "thinking being" is the ultimate cause of all other beings and must therefore possess "the idea and all the perfections I attribute to deity." The cosmological argument and ontological argument prove God's existence is 'necessary' through many different methods. If a person accepts that God is the ultimate creator and that there can be no one greater it is safe to assume that God is necessary, and the ontological and cosmological arguments set out a logical way of achieving this! ...read more.

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