How the Ontological Argument Proves God’s Existence
“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” If this passage from Psalms is correct, then many people today are fools, for they insist that God does not exist. But the ranks of non-believers include many scientifically minded and highly intelligent people, not the sort we would normally consider as foolish. So, what makes such a person a “fool,” and not merely someone with whom we disagree?
Well, let’s begin with a look at the definition of “fool,” which includes “a person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing or acting silly or stupid.” Now, sometimes we trick ourselves, and thereby make fools of ourselves. And other times we are misled. But either way, most would agree that someone who holds contradictory views has deceived himself. Imagine a person proudly proclaiming that the prime rib he is about to eat is an important part of his vegetarian diet. Or the person who says that the only medicine that can save him is the one with no ingredients.
But sometimes contradictions aren’t as obvious. Why, then, is it a contradiction to insist there is no God? It doesn’t appear to be contradictory – at first glance anyway. For the answer to that question, we are indebted to St. Anselm of Canterbury, who lived and pondered these questions some ten centuries ago. I can’t do justice to Anselm’s argument in this brief piece, but perhaps some concepts borrowed from Anselm may help make the point.
The first requires consideration of just what the mind does. Anyone who has seen a baby develop realizes that the human mind comes preprogrammed with an “operating system” of sorts. This allows us to acquire language, to reason, to recognize concepts such as fairness and truth and beauty, and other intangible things, and to make use of imagination. This ability for abstract thought lends itself to “got it” moments, when a problem that has been puzzling us all of a sudden makes sense. We all use these systems intuitively; of course there is no other way, since we could never use reason, for instance, to prove the validity or usefulness of reason…
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