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

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

Extracts from this document...


"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.


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.


* 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.

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. "If God made the world, then he must be absent without leave!" Write an ...

    The above two experiences are known as conversion experiences. No matter how persuading such experiences may seem to many people, Atheists claim that these experiences still do not prove that God exists. Some atheists believe that the majority of the miracles mentioned in the bible did not really occur at

  2. The Ontological Argument - Describe and explain the ontological argument for the existence ...

    Similarly, he maintained that once we know what a triangle is we know that it must have three sides. Like a triangle inherently must have three sides, so God inherently must exist. Objections to the ontological argument were first brought up by a monk who was a contemporary of Anselm named Gaunilo.

  1. The Nature of God Religious Studies Coursework. I am going to explain, discuss and ...

    The very basic understanding derives from both St. Anselm's and Descartes' first ideas of the ontological argument. St. Anselm said that the concept of God is 'a being than which no greater can be conceived.' This leads to the conclusion that: God is a supremely perfect being; therefore existence is perfection and therefore God exists.

  2. 'An analysis of arguments for the existence of God will result in valid philosophical ...

    This he called the Principle of Testimony. Swinburne and Davies have claimed that the argument holds sway because of simple cumulative logic. If the arguments for and against the existence of God are considered, they are fairly evenly balanced. Some of the arguments strengthen the likelihood that God exists whilst

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

    While Kant's criticism is phrased in terms of the logic of predicates, it also makes a plausible metaphysical point. Existence is not a property, rather it is a precondition for the instantiation of properties in the following sense: it is not possible for a non-existent thing to instantiate any properties because there is nothing to which a property can stick.

  2. Does God Exist?

    of God than the fact that its three angles equal two right angles can be separated from the essence of the triangle". Descartes is basically saying that by definition, a triangle must have three angles and in the same way, he is saying that that 'existence' must be a predicate that is included in the defining qualities that God holds.

  1. If facts by themselves never prove or disprove anything, what else is involved in ...

    Sometimes facts are hard to question. It is not easy to understand that something you have believed all your life is actually false. So sometimes we tend to accept facts that we are told without questioning them. For example, when in the early 20th century coloured people began to ask for equal rights as whites, it was seen as unacceptable.

  2. Arguments about god.

    * One more experience could be of actually seeing the God, and sensing his presence. This could happen in a near death experience, or from a flat liner brought back by the hospital staff. It could also happen through dreams or trances, these are called 'mystical experiences' These experiences are

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