The ontological argument supplied by St. Anselm attempts the technique of a priori proof, which makes use of intuition and explanation alone to prove the existence of God. It can reasonably be argued to be the strongest amongst the arguments that purport to establish the existence of God by way of explanation. It can also be argued that it is less difficult to be persuaded that ontological arguments are no fantastic than it is to say specifically what is incorrect with them. This post will concentrate mainly on St. Anselm's version, and try to do specifically that-show what is incorrect with it. Even though the ontological argument may possibly incredibly effectively be the strongest argument for the existence of God by way of explanation, the strongest of a weak set remains weak.

Anselm presents the ontological argument as component of a prayer directed at God. He begins with a definition of God, or a essential assumption about the nature of God, or possibly each.

“Now we think that [the Lord] is some thing that than which practically nothing higher can be conceived.”

Due to the fact I can comprehend this definition, I can conceive of God. In addition, I can conceive of God not only as current as a idea in my thoughts but also as current in reality, independently of my tips. Due to the fact it is higher to exist each as an thought and as a genuine point than merely to exist as an thought, God need to exist each in reality and as an thought. By definition, God is that than which none higher can be conceived. Therefore, God need to exist in reality, or else some thing higher than God can be conceived.

The two most popular, if not greatest, objections to Anselm's argument have been supplied by Gaunilo and Immanuel Kant. Gaunilo objects that the argument is not deductively valid. If Anselm's reasoning have been appropriate, the argument could be modified to show that an island than which no higher island is probable definitely exists, even so, we know that no such island exists, as a result, Anselm's reasoning need to be invalid.

Kant appeals to the questionable premise that existence is a predicate. Kant makes use of an imaginary 1 hundred dollar bill to illustrate his point, but I will propose a hypothetical scenario: Suppose that I go out to obtain a six-pack of beer, and as I stroll out the door, my pal remembers 1 a lot more “predicate” that he would like to attach to the beer, “Make certain it is Canadian import!” I agree to my friend's request, but prior to I am gone, he calls to me once again, “Oh yeah, and make certain it exists!” A thing is incorrect right here, but what? Kant says that existence is not perfection due to the fact all perfections are predicates, and existence can't be a predicate. When we say that the beer exists, we do not add something to our idea of the beer, we merely say that there is some thing answering to that idea. It follows that no matter how several predicates of a point we list, we nevertheless will not have answered the query whether or not there is some thing that possesses all probable attributes. That is precisely what Anselm attempts to do in his argument.

So, are there affordable replies to these objections? Proponents of the ontological argument believe so. Gaunilo's objection shows that Anselm's argument is invalid only if all the premises stay accurate when “the ideal island” is substituted for “God”. But Gaunilo's premise that a ideal island is a probable getting is false due to the fact the traits that make an island good-sandy beaches, warm breezes, babbling brooks, and so on.-can be multiplied devoid of limit. Therefore, Gaunilo's objection does not render Anselm's argument invalid.

The refutation of Kant's objection is a small trickier, but nevertheless probable. Kant may possibly have misunderstood 1 of Anselm's premises. He requires Anselm to be saying that some thing that exists each in intellectu and in re is higher than that, which exists in intellect alone. But Anselm may possibly be producing a diverse point. He may possibly be referring to contingent points and essential points a contingent point getting some thing that may well either exist or fail to exist, and a essential point getting some thing that can't fail to exist. If the argument is interpreted in this way, it would appear that a essential point is undoubtedly higher or a lot more ideal than a contingent point. Kant believes that Anselm is saying that points that exist are higher than points that do not exist, but Anselm may possibly imply that essential points are higher than contingent points. This way of understanding Anselm's argument escapes Kant's objection.

So, Anselm's argument refuses to go away when confronted with these two objections, but what takes place to it when we definitely start to dissect it? Let's start by defining what Anselm calls God as, “the getting than which none higher is probable”. So, what traits does God possess? Regular theism holds that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omni benevolent, omnipresent, and eternal. Nonetheless, is it probable for a getting to possess all of these traits? I argue that it is not.

It is evident to me that God can't be all-strong and all-fantastic at the exact same time as lengthy as there is evil in the planet. The standard theistic response to this statement would be that God has offered humans free of charge will, and that lets him off the hook. But does it? Let me give an intense instance: A strong, evil dictator such as Saddam or Hitler has instructed his secret agents to plant strong nuclear devices all more than the planet, all wired up to a red button on his coffee table. There he is, in the ultimate act of vengeance, with his finger poised more than the button. What does God do? Does he act to quit the annihilation of his beloved planet Earth, or does he say, “Properly, I have offered these folks free of charge will, so do your worst-practically nothing I can do about it.” Ergo: If God acts, he overrides free of charge will and is eventually accountable for all the fantastic and evil in the planet or if he does not act, he is not all-strong and Hitler, Saddam, and the Devil definitely figure out what takes place. It is not possible for God to be all-strong and all fantastic at the exact same time as illustrated by this instance, and blaming humans is not the answer. In any case, humans do not trigger earthquakes in which thousands die. Why would God let them come about? I think that all of this efficiently calls into query Anselm's definition of God as “the getting than which none higher is probable”.

This brings us to an additional query: Is God an not possible getting? It could be argued that God's greatness, like Gaunilo's island, has no maximum limit. If God could be produced higher by slightly altering a divine characteristic or two, then there could not be a getting than which none higher is probable. Even so, the most convincing explanation for pondering that God may well be an not possible getting is that the idea of essential existence may possibly be incoherent. To say that a getting necessarily exists is the exact same as saying that it is NOT probable for that getting NOT to exist. This signifies that if a essential getting is probable, it need to exist. The oddness of this assertion leads me to think that there can't be essential points.

Now, let's appear at Anselm's premise, which states: “God exists in the understanding”. Kant's objection is the most well-liked when it states that existence is not a predicate. St. Thomas also rejects the query begging nature of this statement in the Summa Theological: “It can't be argued that it basically exists, unless it is admitted that there definitely is some thing than which practically nothing higher can be believed and it is precisely this that is not admitted by these who hold that God does not exist”. Theists and non-theists dispute whether or not there are ideal beings, or beings than which no higher can be conceived of, hence, this calls into query the indirect topic matter of the premises of the ontological argument, and undoubtedly calls into query whether or not it is probable for God to exist in the understanding.

In conclusion, we will critique some of the points that have been produced and point out especially why this argument fails. Merely pondering about some thing can't entail its existence, but that is specifically what Anselm's argument intends to show. As John McEnroe would have stated as he was angrily heaving a tennis racket across the court at Wimbledon, “You can't be critical!” Anselm's argument does present a clear statement of the idea of God as accepted by standard western theology and philosophy, but this strategy is not adequate for 1 with non-theistic leanings. The claim that “I can conceive of a getting than which no higher can be conceived” is clearly not analytic. Its truth does not adhere to from the meanings of the words employed to express it. The standard point right here is that the ontological argument needs the use of vocabulary which non-theists uncover problematic when it is employed in ontologically committing contexts.

Hence, the ontological argument fails on several counts. Initially, it begs the query, as we have observed by Thomas Aquinas' refutation. Second, it tends to make the bold, unsupported assertion that we can conceive of “that higher than which practically nothing can be conceived” in the initially spot. No human getting has sufficient know-how of God's nature to assert his existence from it. Third, Anselm's argument is equally applicable to qualities which human beings take into account damaging as effectively as good. If God is the greatest getting that can be believed of, he need to be so in each the good and damaging senses. Therefore, God as defined by Anselm's argument is a contradiction in terms. Fourth, what does Anselm imply by “greatest”? Redefining the greatest in all good elements, but not in the damaging, does not resolve this challenge. Constructive and damaging are not the exact same for all folks, therefore, “greatest” is not the exact same for all folks. A logical argument about ultimate getting need to be the exact same for all folks, as a result, the argument is invalid. Fifth, existence is not a predicate. Proponents of the ontological argument can uncover a way about Kant's objection, but to do so, good liberties have to be taken in redefining specifically what Anselm signifies in his phrasing of the argument. At the incredibly least, this raises queries as to the strength of Anselm's original argument.

Ultimately, it can be stated that the ontological argument is a fascinating argument due to the fact it has however to be totally dismissed by all philosophers. But I think that it at some point will be rejected by all but the most pious, due to the fact even if it could be expressed in a diverse way, it would nevertheless fail due to the fact we could under no circumstances obtain sufficient know-how of God by way of human understanding to be in a position to assert his existence. Hence, Anselm's argument fails from the incredibly initially premise.