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The Ontological Argument

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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.

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