God’s Existence Essay, Research Paper

Almost everyone at some particular point in his or her life has

challenged the existence of God. This may happen for a number of

reasons. For example he or she might have been at a point in

their life when their faith alone was just not enough for them to

believe. Humans have a natural instinct to find reasons for

events that can t be explained. For some, the existence of God

may help give them the answers they are looking for.

Philosophers spend a great deal of their time trying to prove or

to disprove the existence of God. One philosopher that

confronted God s existence was Anselm.

Anselm was the Archbishop of Canterbury and was a very

influential philosopher between Augustine and Aquinas. He

proposed his argument for God s existence. His ontological

argument is based on the thought of God as the highest being.

Anselm s argument is different from other philosophers

simply because of it s premise. He saw a need for a precise

logical philosophy as a way for making faith mature, not as a

substitute for faith. Because Anselm already believed in God, he

was only looking for rational support for this belief. Therefore

Anselm s method of proving God s existence is called Faith

seeking understanding. He proclaims I do not seek to

understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order

that I may understand (Stumpf, 372-372). Anselm had to believe

in God in order to support his own rational for God s existence.

To help prove his belief, Anslem he uses his mind. He

claims, Now we believe that You are something than which nothing

greater can be thought. He then questions, Does this

something, than which nothing greater can be thought, really

exist? (Stumpf 373). Anselm also sites Psalm 13:1 which reads,

The fool has said in his heart: There is no God. When a fool

hears the question, Does this something than which nothing

greater can be thought really exist, he understands what he is

hearing. The fool follows what this question because it is in

his intellect.

Next Anselm shows how something can exist in the intellect

even before the intellectual knows that it exist. He tries to

explain this statement by giving an example of a painter

contemplating what he is going to paint next. At this point the

painter has in his intellect an understanding of what he will

paint but not an understanding that the portrait prevails.

Because of this the fool can comprehend something than which

nothing greater can be thought even though he doesn t know that

it exists.

After showing that even the fool agrees with the idea of God

existing in the mind, Anselm moves toward implementing the idea

that God exists outside of the mind. Anyone can think of

something greater than a being which exists as an idea in the

intellect. That is the actual existence of that being for which

there is no greater (Stumpf 373). As an example, one can think

of an island which exists only in his intellect. Since it is

only in his intellect as an idea, he then can think of something

greater. That something greater would be the island actually

existing. So, if something exists only in the mind, like a

yellow island, a greater something can be thought of, such as a

real yellow island. Therefore, if God is only present in the

mind, it is possible to think of something greater. However, if

even a fool agrees with the statement, that something than which

nothing greater can be though exists in the mind (Stumpf 373).

Therefore, this something, or God must exist in reality. This is

because nothing greater can be thought of other than God.

This theory or proof put forth by Anselm came under though

inspection by a Benedictine monk named Guanilon. He argued that

the proof Anselm offers is inadequate. He disputed that the

first part of the proof was literally impossible. It requires

that there be in the understanding an idea of God, that upon

hearing this word the fool is expected to have a conception of

that which there is no greater (Stumpf 374).

Guanilon continues to state that a fool could not possibly

from such an idea. A fool does not have the previous experiences

or realities to compare to such a great being. He claims that if

a human could create such a great being, no proof would be

necessary. Guanilon find the fault in Anselm s argument because

the argument only tries to prove the concept of the existence of

God. One can also think of a orange island , but there is no way

that it can be proved.

Saint Thomas Aquinas adds more proof to the existence of God

through the proof from efficient cause. Thomas Aquinas thought

is the product of a man of genius, coming at a time in which

Western intellectualism and education reached a peak in the first

flowering of the great universities (Aquinas, xix). His life

and works had much influence on others . People referred to him

as being an innovator of philosophy for his thoughts on proving

God s existence.

In the proof from efficient cause, Aquinas states, Whatever

belongs to a being is either caused by the principles of its

nature… or it comes to it from some extrinsic principle…it is

impossible that the act of existing be caused by a thing s form

(Aquinas, 159). In other words, everything that we experience in

life is based on a previous happening. As long as the cause

comes before the effect, nothing can be before itself. There has

to be a series of efficient causes since it goes along with the

thought that a being cannot cause itself. In this series there

is three causes. The first being the ultimate causes which is

brought on by the intermediate causes. The intermediate causes

stems from the primary causes. Therefore, if there be no first

cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any

intermediate cause (Stumpf, 380). We must then conclude that an

original efficient cause is existent. This element has no prior

cause because by definition it is the first efficient cause.

This first cause is therefore has to be known as God.

Other philosophers provided criticism for both Anselm s

ontological proof and Aquinas efficient cause. One of them is

Immanuel Kant. He attacks the ontological argument by saying,

it is all verbal exercise, for the essence of this proof is that

since we have the idea of a most perfect being, it would be

contradictory to say that such a being does not exist (Stumpf,

390). The contradiction arises because of humans idea of a

perfect being. The ontological argument says that a being which

does not exist can hardly be considered a perfect being (Stumpf,

390). The outstanding flaw in this proof is that there is no

statement way it is a necessity to have a God. A contradiction

occurs when everyone agrees that a perfect being does exist but

was not all knowing. Kant s argument establishes the fact that

by simply saying a supreme being is all knowing does not prove

God s existence.

Kant then challenges Aquinas proof of efficient cause.

Kant says that man has knowledge of causality but insisted that

human knowledge is limited in its scope. Knowledge is limited to

experience in one sense, yet experience cannot show us that

every change must have a cause since we have not yet experienced

every chance (Stumpf, 299). Because of this humans have to rely

solely on their rational judgment for things that cannot be

experienced. However, this rational judgment is also, limited

by the manner in which our faculties of perception and thinking

organize the raw data of experience (Stumpf, 304). In other

words, everything that is known is only known by how the mind

lets us know it. Things that are visualized by humans are not

always received in the mind the way that they appear in reality.

The mind can perceive things the way it wants to.

Through the philosopher s arguments covered in this paper,

there is legitimate proof for and against the existence of God.

In my opinion, a God can only exist if one wants Him to.

Although one can always rely on he arguments to help support his

views. If one does not truly believe that a God exists he can

find another argument to support God s non-existence. I have

been brought up to believe in the existence of God however, I

have come to question His existence. When I was younger, I used

to believe but as I gained new knowledge I began to question if

there really was a God.

Some people can have faith alone and succeed just fine,

while others need written proof of the existence of God. All of

the philosophers mentioned either give support for or against for

those who need written proof. I believe that He was created for

the sole purpose of people to believe in something that is on

some sort of higher level than everyone else. If God does really

exist then those who believe now will eventually reach their

ending place in life. For those who live in question of His

existence will also end up at their own future ending place.

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