Arguments for God’s Existence: The Ontological Argument

by Anthony Weber

<Digimax S600 / Kenox S600 / Digimax Cyber 630>The Ontological Argument attempts to arrive at the reality of God from the idea of God. This argument was first articulated by Anselm (Proslogian, chapters 2-3), who is credited with formulating the core of the ultimate idea of deity.[1]  He presented his argument in two different forms.  The first forms states that God is a being “something than which nothing greater (more perfect) can be conceived”; there is no reality beyond him to which he is inferior.[2]  Things existing in reality are greater than things existing in the mind only; therefore God must exist in reality, or he would not be the greatest possible being.  In other words, since God exists in our minds, he must exist in reality as well, since it would be absurd to be able to think of something that is greater than that which nothing greater can be conceived.

The second form states that God is a necessary being, not a contingent being, since a necessary being is greater and truer than a contingent one. One must affirm what is necessary in a Necessary Being, and existence is logically necessary in a Necessary Being; therefore, a Necessary Being necessarily exists.

By way of analogy, Gaunilo of Marmoutier argued that Anselm must be wrong, because the argument could lead to a perfect anything, not just a perfect God.[3]  Gaunilo said it was absurd to believe that since he could conceive of an island than which nothing greater can be conceived, this island must exist.  Anselm replied that since the island was contingent (its non-existence is conceivable), the analogy was false.  Overall, though Gaunilo asked some interesting questions, he did not nullify Anselm’s argument…


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