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Examine the major features of the ontological argument for the existence of God. (b) To what extent do the strengths of this argument overcome its weaknesses?

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Introduction

2. (a) Examine the major features of the ontological argument for the existence of God. (b) To what extent do the strengths of this argument overcome its weaknesses? The ontological argument for the existence of God was originally set out in eleventh century by St. Anselm in his Proslogian. Anselm was a Benedictine monk, Archbishop of Canterbury, and one of the great medieval theologians. It has received a lot of both support and criticism from leaning philosophers. The argument is appeals to those who already believe in the existence of God than to an atheist. The argument is entirely a priori; it seeks to demonstrate that God exists on the basis of that concept alone, and show existence as an attribute/characteristic of God, in the same way omnipotence and benevolence are considered to be. Anselm presented his argument in two stages, with the main idea behind them being that epistemology is ontology, so that if we can conceive of X then X must exist. Anslem defined God as 'a being than which nothing greater can be conceived', and thus cannot just exist merely in peoples thoughts. He must exist separate from our thought, in reality. To explain this he used the analogy of the painter, " For when a painter thinks ahead to what he will paint, he has that picture in his thought, but he does not yet think it exists, because he has not done it yet. ...read more.

Middle

In the 20th Century there have been two main philosophers who have worked noteably on the Ontological Argument, Norman Malcolm and Alvin Plantinga. Malcolm's theory is based on the premise that the classical Christian theist view of God is right. His work focuses on the idea of God having necessary existence. His theory was if God is 'that than which nothing greater can be conceived'. He cannot be brought into existence or happen to come into existence, because this would lead to a greater being than God, but this being would then be God as it can be conceived of as the greatest being. Therefore God is either necessary or impossible but along with Anselm's ideas this means God has to exists, with belief or not. Malcolm believes that unless God's necessary existence presents us with a logical contradiction, we have to accept it. Alvin Plantinga's notion of God's existence is through his form of the argument through the idea of possible worlds. This is the notion of the world as it is today is just a chance event and that our presence here is not necessary but was possible, if it were impossible we would not be here. A possible world is the complete way something can be. ...read more.

Conclusion

Immanuel Kant opposed the version of the argument put forward by Rene Descartes. He objected to the claim the denying God's existence was the same as deny triangles angles add up to 180 degrees, which is a contradiction. He states that if one dismisses the idea of the angles adding up and that of triangle its self, there is no contradiction left. This appears to deal with Descartes but Kant has a second point to defeat Anselm, 'existence is not a predicate', he says that just because someone says X exists it does not tell you anything about X. Thus the statement 'X exists' is telling us a property about X, then 'X does not exist' denies that it has this property, but how can God lack this if it does not lack anything? Thomas Aquians' compliant about the Ontological argument is it does not base the statement 'God exists' on a secure basis. It does not refer to any a posteriori criteria because it is based entirely on a logical argument. This is not going to convince an atheist because they have to start with the assumption the God does exist. 1 Pasted from www.faithnet.org.uk/kes 2 Intrinsic maximum - can not be bettered Drew Dyson 13SW: Religious Studies ...read more.

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