Anselm Ontological Argument Essay, Research Paper
Anselm s ontological argument is an explanation that Anselm came up with to prove that God exists. He uses a step by step procedure to persuade you into believing that since we canpicture and think of God as the greatest being, then he must exist. In the beginning of hisdiscussion , Anselm asks what is it that we mean when we speak of God. The first thing I thinkof when I speak of God is the creator of earth, the superior being. Anselm also believes that whenwe speak of God we are speaking of the most supreme being. God is said to be greatestimaginable being, not just the greatest being that happens to be around, but the greatest thinkablebeing. Anselm states that God is a being which none greater can be thought and a being thanwhich nothing greater can be conceived. (23) Anselm continues through his discussion byquestioning the difference between what exists in the mind and what exists in the mind andoutside of the mind as well. One of the questions that is asked is, Is it better to exist the mindalone or in the mind and in reality. In my opinion, that is a really easy question to answer but forsome reason Anselm feels it is necessary to go into detail. He uses the example of a painter whoportrays a work of art in his mind. So which is better? The piece of art he has created in his mindor the finished product that is within his mind as well as in reality. I hope that everyone willcome to the conclusion it is the painting in reality and the mind that is greater. Anselm believedthat since God was a being which nothing greater can be conceived, and since it is greater to existin the mind and in reality, then God must exist both in the mind and in reality. To sum it up,Anselm believed that God must be. A monk named Gaunilo believed there was something wrong with this argument. Howdoes thinking about something guarantee that it exists in reality? Gaunilo believed that if theargument were any good, he could setup similar arguments proving the existence of all sorts ofthings. For example, it seemed to him that if Anselms argument worked, then he ought to be ableto prove the existence of perfect island in exactly the same way. Paul Kurtz criticizes Anselm s ontological argument by stating It is surprising that somany philosophers and theologians have been convinced by this argument, for its speciouscharacter is readily evident. (37) He believes that just because you have this concept of God inyour mind doesn t mean God exist, it just shows that you were taught to believe that. And whatabout these people who don t have a concept of God, does that mean there is no God? To me thisis a one sided argument and doesn t give you much of a basis to believe any other than whatAnselm is pointing out to you. But considering Plato s discussion with Theaetus, it overridesKurtz and my opinion. It was Theaetus who stated that perception is knowledge, but soon foundout that he was entirely wrong from Plato. Plato believed that making judgments wasknowledge. To me Anselms ontological argument was a judgment made by himself to shareknowledge of what he believed with everyone else. I can t say if it was a true of a false judgment,for that can only be found from experience of being deceased.2. Thomas Jefferson was principle author of the Declaration of Independence and thirdpresident of the United States. As Jefferson applied reason to the field of religion, he concludedthat evidence of design in nature is so obvious and extensive that there must be a cosmicdesigner. (30) Thomas Jefferson s design argument doesn t prove the existence of Godconceived as a supremely perfect being because it can t be proven. There can always be anargument that asks how can God be supremely perfect when there is war, sickness, murder, etc. Jefferson does try to persuade you to have no doubt that God is supremely perfect by blaming all
the faults with the world on man, not God. In his eyes God created a beautiful place and wishedfor it to stay that way, it was man who corrupted everything. He believed that life was just toexquisite and angelic for the world just to exist. The way he speaks of earth makes you see theway he sees. Just to sit back and think of everything here that exists, it all fits perfectly together. Listening to this passage is what satisfies me the most. The movements of the heavenly bodies,so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces; the structure ofour earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere; animals and vegetablesbodies, examined in all their minutest particles; insects, mere atoms of life, yet as perfectlyorganized as man or mammoth; the mineral substances, their generation and uses; it is impossible,I say, for the human mind not to believe, that the is in all this, design, cause and effect, up to anultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulatorwhile permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and otherforms. (31-32) I think that I can somewhat believe Jefferson s opinion. Earth had to be createdsomehow, and since there must be a beginning to everything why not come to conclusion thatGod was the beginning. In Kurtz criticism of the design argument it seems to me that he is more focusedon the title that God is given. The main point he stressed was how is God all good and allpowerful? If God is all good, then why all the suffering and pain, and if he is all powerful thenwhy doesn t he stop all the evil? Kurtz starts by evaluating the deists point of view. They believethat since the earth is full of design and order then it must have been a plan or design by someoneor something. The argument that was made to this thought is that its not possible to discoveruniversal order in nature, order doesn t indicate plan or existence of a creator. Nature is often ascene of conflict, chaos, and disorder. (40) And since there is disorder, then isn t it God s fault? It is then that Kurtz goes into this whole argument about evil and how does it exist if God is sogreat and powerful. The deists then say that Evil is only human. (40) Aquinas argument from design differs from the eighteenth century deistic version becauseAquinas brings more ideas to the argument of god than does the deists. Aquinas believed thatthere were five ways to go about proving God must exist. The first way is that there must be afirst mover, moved by no other, that can only be believe to be God. The second way is that thereis cause and effect, there has to be a first cause, that is believed to be God. The third way is thatthere is possibility and necessity. Earth was somehow created, it hasn t always existed, somethinghad to create it. There has to be something that set off a chain reaction causing earth to exist. It snot possible for everything to come from nothing. If nothing existed then nothing could havebeen created. The fourth way is taken from gradation to be found in things. (29) This isbasically stating that there has to be a reason for existing, for being the way we are, and it must beGod. And finally there s the fifth way, Governance of the world, all natural things are directedto their end. (29) You then look at the deists eighteenth century argument, it seems to use asimilar argument used by Aquinas, The second way from the nature of efficient cause. (28) Ireally don t think that Aquinas argument succeeds because its states that it was rejected bymodern physics. To me, none of their arguments can prove the existence of God they onlyproduce more ideas. I really don t think that God can be proved to be real. The only proof Icould say would be worthy proof of God existing is visual proof, and not just anyone seeing himand saying they saw him, but myself see God with my own eyes.