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

The Ontological Argument

Extracts from this document...


The Ontological Argument - Outline the Ontological Argument for the existence of God and consider the view that while it may strengthen a believer's faith, it has no value for the non-believer. The Ontological argument was first created and developed by a monk called Anselm, (1033-1109.) He defined God as "a being than which nothing greater can be conceived." He then developed his theory by explaining that if God is to be the greatest possible being, he must exist in more than just one's mind. We imagine something better than just a mere idea and since to exist is greater and more perfect than to just be a concept in one's mind and for God to be the greatest possible being, he must exist separately from people's thoughts. In summary, God must therefore exist in reality. Anselm argued that if God only exists in the mind alone, as an idea, then a greater being could be created or imagined to exist. ...read more.


If one proves the existence of God in this manner, surely the existence of anything imagined, for example, the lost island, can also be proved. As Hume said; "We cannot define something into existence - even if it has all the perfections we can imagine." Therefore, the atheist would most definitely be unsatisfied with this argument. Another question an atheist would raise is that what does the word "God" actually mean? The definition of God by Anselm is often criticised, as some people may not be able visualise such an infinitely perfect being, as it is a very abstract idea. This criticism concerns the idea of a "greatest being" and raises the question of whether we really have a concept of this. Is this concept meaningful, or can it be compared and likened to the concept of the most perfect building or the greatest number? This thread of criticism would be rejected by believers, as they accept the premises that God is the greatest possible being, in both mind and reality. ...read more.


However, this again is something that the atheist would persue, as Anselms's statement, "it is greater to be a necessary being, (cannot not be,) than a contingent being, (can cease to exist,)" would not convince them when comparing it to different examples. One such example is that, is it better for a serial rapist to exist than not to exist? Believers need then to explain further to Atheists, what is meant by the word "perfection," and to justify the claim that "existence is perfection." I am therefore concluding that the Ontological Argument is most insufficient to convert or persuade the atheist, as there is no actual proof, just ingenious reasoning, which strengthens and rationalises current beliefs in God. However, perhaps Anselm was not intending to convert those who had doubtable faith in God, because as he once said; "I have written the following treatise in the person of one who...seeks to understand what he believes..." Louise Riddick L6 EU Philosophy Higher IB Mr Skinnard ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Existence of God 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 GCSE Existence of God essays

  1. Explain the Ontological argument.

    Maximal excellence is therefore possible, not actual and therefore God is possible not actual. What is the cosmological argument? (33) The cosmological argument is a 'posteriori' argument; this means that unlike the ontological argument in derives that God exists from empirical observations of the world and the universe to conclude that there was a first cause behind it.

  2. "Religious experience is all in the mind of the believer" -Examine and comment on ...

    innocent until proven guilty). An example of religious experience is Saul's conversion from a fierce critic to a loyal supporter of the way (Christianity). Saul was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians when Jesus appeared to him (Acts (9:1-11).

  1. "Modern visions of the Ontological Argument are more successful than early versions"

    Existence isn't a great-making property because it is not a property at all; it is rather a metaphysically necessary condition for the instantiation of any properties. So in summary, Kant argued that existence was not a predicate and that necessary existence does not work either.

  2. Why Some People Become Atheist

    God said in his commandments that 'thou shall not kill', but look what happened in the world's history, millions of people died because of the Holocaust. That is why, some people such as Susan B. Anthony stated: "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to

  1. The Ontological Argument

    If he does exist he cannot have come into existence nor can he cease to exist as nothing could cause him to exist nor could anything cause him to cease to exist. So, if God exists his existence is necessary.

  2. The ontological argument

    Without further empirical evidence therefore it was said that Anselm's argument was useless. Gaunilo's most famous counter-example was the perfect island, used to undermine Anselm's foundations; We can imagine a perfect island of which it is the greatest that can be conceived, and as it is greater to exist in

  1. Describe the ontological argument with reactions and contributions made to it by philosophers.

    He does not solely rely on a definition of God but rather on an innate idea of the essence of God. Descartes' version summarised is; God's existence is inferred from the fact that necessary existence is contained in the clear and distinct idea of a supremely perfect being, and that

  2. The ontological argument

    Plantinga pointed out, correctly, that islands have no 'intrinsic maximum'. We also have to remember that the basis for Anselm's argument is that even if there were an intrinsic maximum for everything, God is further than that because He is greater, not merely as great, as the greatest thing.

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