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“the Ontological Argument Doesn’t Prove Anything” to What Extent Do You Agree?

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By downdog555
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The Ontological argument is a debate created by St. Anselm and his book, Proslogian, this argument was created, as stated by Anselm, to re-inforce faith but not proves God’s existence, this is stated by Anselm as Proslogian is a supplementary prayer book. However the argument itself does border on trying to proves gods existence, this argument is as follows: God is a being that which no greater can be conceived, a being that exists in reality is better than one that just solely exists in the mind, therefore god must exist in reality.
Anselm himself argued that even through reason, those without faith could not truly understand god, as Anselm stated that the argument was never meant to for faith upon someone but this argument itself was only for the reassurance of faith, he himself already accepts gods existence. Anselm considered that reason alone can lead to error and therefore has to be supported by faith as it is only through faith that greater understanding can be achieved. if the believer accepts there is god then the ontological argument may be a valid argument that god’s existence is necessary. In the same way a triangle has 3 sides, for a believer that believes they understand the concept of god then for them god exists to quote Anselm: “For I believe this too, that ‘unless I believe I shall not understand’”. Therefore Anselm himself believes that it does not actually prove anything unless you have this preconceived notion about the existence of god, this is also known as faith.
Karl Barth supports the idea that the argument in itself was to not prove gods existence but it is a prayer, this is something that many of Anselm’s critics miss. Barth argues that Anselm’s definition of god is not present as the beginning of an argument but as a description by a believer of what is understood about god within the limits of the human mind, he points out that if humans had the mental capacity to understand god and prove gods existence then it would not be necessary to have faith in god’s self-revelations, he also considered Anselm’s assertion that god has a necessary existence to be a statement of faith as without the existence of god then humans and the world they live in would not exist, this however is only an extension of reason as Anselm, on the other hand would say that the argument is seeking to take people beyond the definition of the word “god” to knowledge of god, himself through the expansion of reason into faith as Anslem was a staunch believer that faith and reason are two branches of the same tree, with faith extending further than reason and that tree being knowledge. By definition therefore god is theoretically possible. However having the concept does not make god a reality for agnostics and atheists, but it does for the believer
Anti-realism is a theory of truth. It holds that the truth or falsity of a statement depends not on the objective reality of what it describes, but on whether it corresponds to the situation at the person understands it. For example whether god exists is based upon whether or not an objective existing omnipotent being but on which person we ask. Upon this view religious believers are right to say that god exists for he truly does exist within that religious community, this is like a shared blik, this just proves they believe that god exists not that there is an objective being that is god exists. For anti-realists the ontological argument has extra force, for a religious community that accept the existence of god, the statement “god necessarily exists” is true by definition. Merely to believe in god validates the existence feature. If the statement “god is which that nothing greater can be conceived” is uttered prayerfully to god by a religious believer then we can say by definition that such a god exists. Therefore even in a non-objective reality the ontological argument does actually prove something but not for everyone.

However there have been philosphers who would agree with the statement such as Douglass Gaskin who uses his ironic proof, to show that the ontological argument actually proves nothing.
1. The creation of the world is the most marvellous achievement imaginable
2. The merit of an achievement is the product of a. its intrinsic quality and b the ability of its creator
3. The greater the disability of the creator the more impressive the achievement is
4. The most formidable handicap is for a creator who does not exist
5. Therefore if we suppose that the universe is the product of an existent creator then we can conceive of a greater being
6. An existing god therefore would not be a being that no greater can be conceived as a greater one that does not exist can be conceived.
7. God does not exist
This therefore shows that the ontological argument actually proves nothing due to the fact, it attempts to prove the existence of god, but rather with the ironic proves that the ontological argument deos not work therefore does not actually prove anything.

In conclusion I believe that the ontological argument does hold some value for the believer as it is a re-enforcement of faith rather than proof, which some could argue that the ontological argument therefore does not prove anything as it is not meant for the believer and as Anselm would say not the fool, therefore I believe that the ontological argument does not prove anything. Anselm already accepts the existence of god and is not providing a logical argument that will convince people to believe in god If the believer accepts there is god then the ontological argument may be a valid argument that god’s existence is necessary. In the same way a triangle has 3 sides, for a believer that believes they understand the concept of god then for them god exists, this is even shown by the fact if you approach this argument with no prior information then this argument is actually an inductive one which has no basis and is not logical, this is the way that most people would approach this for example non-believers or anyone who did not share Anselm’s understanding of god and thus do not agree with the argument.

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