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"The Ontological Argument fails to prove God's existence"

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Introduction

"The Ontological Argument fails to prove God's existence" The ontological argument, put forward by Anselm of Canterbury, is an a prior argument, which means it is an argument based solely on reason and logic. Logic is something that both believers and non-believers possess, and to which everyone has access; therefore Anselm believed his argument to be convincing enough to prove the existence of God. However, I do not think he successfully proves the existence of God through the ontological argument, for reasons that I will discuss in the essay. Anselm puts his argument in the following form: 1. The definition of "God" is "the greatest thing that can be conceived" 2. Existence in reality is greater than mere existence in the understanding 3. Therefore, God must exist in reality, not just in the understanding It must first be noted that the argument seeks to prove the statement 'God exists' as an analytic statement - a statement that is necessarily true. He insists that the definition of God is de dicto necessary, and accepted that if this was true, then belief in God was inevitable. He tries to prove the existence of God without referring to any of the effects God has had on the world. ...read more.

Middle

Also, God's existence cannot be proven with our logic; his logic is superior to ours, and it is absurd to try and explain him using a different set of logic. Also, the argument assumes that existence in reality and in the mind is greater than existence in the mind alone. This might not necessarily be the case. Immanuel Kant objected that existence itself was not an attribute to a concept, such as temperature, or colour. Existence cannot alter the concept of an essence; and so the existence of God cannot add to the concept of God. Suppose we were given two separate statements - "Triangles exist", and "Triangles have three sides". The first one tells us nothing about triangles other than the fact that it exists; but the latter is a predicate - it tells us a lot more about triangles. Kant said that existence could not be associated with the definition of something. For example, if the definition of the word 'Kriangle' is 'a triangle that exists', then our only option would be to come to the conclusion that a kriangle (and thus, a triangle) exists. This is what the definition tells us. However, using this method we could prove the existence of anything, simply by defining something through its existence. ...read more.

Conclusion

* There is no single definition of God that can be agreed upon; his perfection can have different meanings to different people. How can his existence be derived from his definition if the definition itself hasn't been fully established? * The whole ontological argument uses human logic to infer the existence of a higher being; but God is superior to us - our logic is not fit to explain his existence. * Existence is not a predicate; it does not add anything to the concept of an essence - we cannot say something is 'greater' just because it exists. * Is God the greatest thing that can be conceived? Surely he cannot be greater than two Gods, but this would contradict his perfection. The definition of God being the greatest conceivable thing is therefore meaningless. * Gaunilo's perfect island argument: anything can be proven to exist using Anselm's logic, including the perfect island. But it does not, so Anselm's logic fails. The ontological argument put forward by Anselm is greatly flawed, proven by the arguments against it I have presented in the essay. Though it makes a brave attempt at proving God's existence through the simplicity of his definition alone, there are some obvious faults that have been attacked by various other philosophers. Anselm fails to prove the existence of God through his ontological argument. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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