Anselm’s Argument: The Existence of God

Subject: Religion
Pages: 2
Words: 572
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: Undergraduate

Anselm’s argument has been designed to prove the existence of God. The first premise presented in the argument is based on the assumption that God is the greatest being that can be imagined by any person. On this basis, the philosopher states that if God does not exist, there is no chance that he could come into being. To justify the given premise, Anselm refers to the definition of God which calls him eternal and, therefore, unlimited. Thus, if God could come into being, it would mean that he was either created by chance, which is impossible as he would be limited by other factors, or caused by something or someone else which is also impossible as it would mean that there is something or someone more powerful than God. As is clear from the very nature of God, he is unlimited, and there is nothing that can influence him. Therefore, using these assumptions, Anselm proves the first premise of the argument.

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As for the final part of the discussed ontological argument, it is necessary to say that Anselm concludes that the existence of God is necessary. Having proven the first premise to the argument, the author manipulated the notions of possibility and impossibility. Thus, he claims that the existence of God is impossible if we accept that he does not exist. After that, he introduces the notion of necessity, claiming that God should exist if we can imagine the being that is so great. Consequently, he supposes that there are only two variants: he does not exist, and it means that his existence is impossible or he exists and there is the need for his existence. Stating that the idea of God is consistent, he refuses the assumption that he does not exist. Consequently, he concludes that his existence is necessary.

Speaking about the sustainability of the argument presented by Anselm, it is necessary to say that there are a few notions that can be considered rather controversial, and the author uses them without necessary explanations. To begin with, the necessity of God’s being is strictly interconnected with the assumption that people can fully understand the features that God does and does not possess. At the same time, according to many believers, God acts as the being which is rather incognizable as the human mind is unable to comprehend its greatness and compare it to other creatures. Also, I would like to pay attention to the argument that “the concept of God is not inconsistent” (Schwarze & Lape, 2012, p.122). One who claims that the assumption is true must explain the concept of God thoroughly and prove its consistency. Despite that, the concept of God does not seem to be consistent and perfect as numerous contradictions arise from the idea of God’s unlimited power. In the end, I do not regard the argument as consistent because demonstration that neglects real experience is not strong enough to be taken into account.

Patterns of reasoning applied in Anselm’s discussion include the use of disjunctive arguments – ones that are based on the exclusion of one of the elements. Apart from that, there are examples of modus tollendo tollens that are used when there is a possibility to exclude the exceptions relevant to the case. In the end, the patterns of reasoning used in Anselm’s argument include constructive dilemmas which help to suppose that two true assumptions must have at least one true consequence.

Reference

Schwarze, S., & Lape, H. (2012). Thinking Socratically. Critical thinking about everyday issues (3d edition). New York, NY: Pearson.