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Anselm's Ontological Argument for the Existence of God.

Anselm's argument started with the assumption that the concept of 'God' could be simply reduced to the statement that God is, "Something than which nothing greater can be conceived."

This statement is often considered to mean that God is perfect, and that anything improving upon God, is itself a property of God, as he may not be 'bested'.

Anselm then proceeds to argue the equivalent to;

Axioms;

  • 1) God is a perfect being.
  • 2) God may be conceived to exist in the imagination.
  • Conjecture) it is logically true that God exists in reality, not just the understanding of the individual.

Assuming the opposite of our conjecture in order to prove it by contradiction, we obtain:

"God only exists as an idea, and not in reality."

We may then reason as Anselm, that if we understood God to exist as merely our 'idea', we would have to admit that God would be a greater concept if he actually existed, as opposed to an idea. Thus since God is perfect and it is greater for him to exist than not, He must exist. We have arrived at Anselm's conclusion to his argument, put:

"God cannot reasonably be thought not to exist."

There are many problems with how this argument is presented. There are numerous examples of fallacies of equivocation concerning the concept of 'perfections', as whether to exist is an improvement (and a 'perfection') over not to. The idea of "that which is perfect" itself being necessarily existent, (as our perfect being 'God' above) is misconstrued to include 'perfect apples', 'perfect islands' all being necessarily existent. The fallacy is in the divorce of the terms 'perfect', and 'being'.

If an apple were a perfect being, I would assume it not only omnipotent, and able to be communicative but also not so stupid as to remain an apple for long in my presence, especially around 11am. A perfect apple would only have to qualify to be an apple. A perfect island must be surrounded by water. One cannot ask more of an island. Though as we shall find, there are many arguments deserving examination that would justify the non-existence of God.


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