Ontological Argument

Does the ontological argument prove God's existence?
Institute name
Does the ontological argument prove God's existence?
1.0 Introduction
The Ontological argument is possibly the most interesting and sound argument that tries to
explain the existence of God. This is because it acts as a “test case” for the philosophical
reasoning and whether the facts raised about the nature of reality are valid (Cupitt, 1980).
This paper aims to expound whether the ontological argument serves as logical reasoning
suggesting God's existence in the universe. I’ll explain what the argument reveals about
God’s existence and provide various philosophers questioning on the issue. At the end of the
paper, you'll be able to understand what the Ontological argument does and decide on
whether God exists or not.
2.0 The Ontological Argument
The topic regarding God’s existence and arguments presented is in itself unique theistically.
The Ontological argument in contrast to other existing arguments such as teleological and
cosmological is unique in that it is a priori. Essentially, this means that the ontological
argument explains Gods existence without reliance on the external world, instead, focus on
explaining God’s existence through rational thought.
2.1 Origin
The ontological argument was pioneered by St. Anselm of Canterbury back in 1078 where he
wrote his Proslogium (Anselm, 2009). The argument relies on natural theology and
references priori reasoning to prove God exists. Anselm’s motivation for the argument is
based on the Bible, specifically Psalms Chapter 14 verse 1, which tries to convince a "fool"
of the existence of God. Anselm needed an argument that could not only point out to God’s
presence in the universe but also show He's all-powerful as Christians portray Him.
Anselm idea was that God is the most powerful being in the universe, which in essence must
be true. The basic shape of his argument is simple enough; it defines God as that which can’t
be exceeded or conceived any greater. He continues to say that anything existing realistically
is greater than what exists in people’s mind. This is because it presents a nonsensical
contradiction since if one can think of something greater existing, then one could imagine a
much greater Being in existence that is God. Thus, Anselm concludes that God has to exist in
2.2 God’s Portrayal regarding Ontological argument
Following Anselm argument on God being the greatest force, it means that all positive and
diving attributes in the universe have to be ascribed to God; no aspect, no praise and no
attribute is left out. This attributes covers but not limited to omniscient, compassionate,
omnipotence, forgiving, omnipresence, omnibenevolence and much more. If any of attributes
regarding God is left out, He will seize to be the greatest being in the universe.
A distinguished philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, formulated a more plausible version of
Anselm's ontological argument. Platinga highlighted God’s perfection and expounded
people's identity and God's definition. Unlike Anselm’s priori reasoning, Plantinga uses a
modal form to convey the basis of his argument. Modal form entails using the logic of the
necessary and the possible. His argument boils down to three ideas including a maximally
excellent being, possible words and maximally great being (Plantinga, 1968).
A possible world is that which there is a maximal depiction of reality or an alternative
possibility of how reality could be. Another view of a possible world could be a place in
which there exist all propositions or its contradictory, to generate a maximum description of
reality. Nevertheless, only one arrangement of either positive or negative proposition can be
included to match actual reality. Plantinga agrees with Anselm on the view of God that he is
all-powerful, maximally excellent, omnipotence, omniscience and morally perfect. Finally,
since a maximally great being can exist in every possible world, God with all maximum
properties exist everywhere.
2.3 Authenticity of the Ontological Argument
The simplicity of the ontological argument has had many subsequent studies and critics who
have expressed rebuttals and criticisms. I’ll be discussing the most common objectives
presented by various philosophers:
2.3.1 Gaunilo’s Conceptual Objection
Gaunilo who was a monk and lived under the contemporary of Anselm argued by the fool.
Gaunilo argued that if God were all-powerful and beyond human comprehension, both
Anselm and Plantinga's premises would be wrong since the very concept of comprehending
God is unimaginable. The ontological argument assumes that man can understand what God
is and can do and the whole idea of God is coherent. Platinga, however, believes this is a
valid assumption and doesn't pose a threat to the argument (Millican, 2004).
Nevertheless, modern philosophical works on theism suggest that the idea of comprehending
God is very likely. Studies from cosmology, teleological, morality also support the idea of
understanding God is very likely.
2.3.2 Kant Predicate Objection
Kant existed in the eighteenth century who criticized the ontological argument by Anselm in
his writings, "The Critique of Pure Reason." Immanuel Kant's main objective was that the
world is not a perfection and therefore, not a quality of God. This means existence can’t
function as a real God’s attribute.
He continues to say that the idea of existence doesn’t add value to the God’s concept and thus
not a true predicate. Should this be true, Anselm argument is wrong since he argues on the
concept itself and God’s existence in the first place.
Kant's objection, however, has been criticized by fellow philosopher Douglas Groothuis.
Groothius argued that since people are questioning about God existing in the first place, it
cannot be assumed or presupposed (God’s existence). He agrees that it is possible that God
may not exist and therefore theorizing existence as a genuine basis of God is correct and
doesn’t for a threat on the argument. Kant’s argument on applies to Anselm first form of
argument and not to Plantinga's argument. Platinga’s argument doesn’t assume God’s
existence as one of His property, and thus Kant's objection isn't plausible (Plantinga, 1966).
2.3.3 Richard Dawkins
Dawkins wrote in his book about his disapproval on the ontological argument. Dawkins, a
well-known atheist, tries hard to disapprove the theory by attacking the argument even
referring it to various names such as “machinist trickery” and “dialectical prestidigitation.”
His main aim is to disapprove God's existence and uses the reverse argument to put his point
across. He argues that the more the handicap of a creator, the more impressive the creation.
He continues to say that, God being non-existent is the most impressive handicap of all time.
He suggests that since a living God is not higher than the non-existing God who formed the
universe, then an existing God doesn’t exist.
This theory doesn't add much since it contradicts itself in terms. There is no way a non-
existing God can create anything; he simply doesn't exist! Therefore, as inconsistent as
Dawkin was, the theory poses no threat to the ontological argument (Dawkins, 2008).
2.3.4 Quasi-Maximal Beings
This can be considered as one of the most formidable threats to the ontological argument. A
quasi-maximal being represents a being that is almost perfect in all areas except for only one,
like imperfect omniscience. This begs the question as to why this is not a logical thinking of
existing beings. Dr. William Lane Craig argues that quasi-maximal beings are more likely to
exist as the maximal beings and the two cannot coexist. If there is the possibility of
maximally great beings existence, then they do exist as the ontological argument has.
Since maximally great being possesses omnipotence as property, it conflicts with quasi-
maximally being nature of natural existence that is required of the maximally great being. As
omnipotent, nothing apart from perfection created by the excellence of maximally great being
should exist. A quasi-maximally being needed to exist independently of the maximally great
being' omnipotence thus presenting a contradiction.
Since a maximally great being created worlds, quasi-maximally being can exist in said
worlds. But since the maximally great being can choose not to have any creation in a given
world, then the quasi-great being will lack the ability of the said natural existence and will
lack maximal greatness. Finally, there is the possibility of a quasi-maximally great being
existence as there is the possibility of a maximally excellent being. However, these two
cannot coexists, and therefore only the maximally great can occur.
2.3.5 Other Possible objections
Two more objects exist that question the ontological argument. The first premise is the
definition of God. The notion of a maximally great being should be considered incoherent but
rather incorrect. That is, there exists a possibility of God being a quasi-maximally excellent
being. Anselm argument is based on God being one that nothing greater can be conceived.
However, what if the whole understanding of God was wrong? Where did Anselm get his
idea from? One may argue that there are biblical scriptures that supports his suggestion but
are they enough? Should he have referred to the Bible for his argument, then his ontological
argument would have been posteriori and not priori. This, however, doesn't disprove his
argument as invalid but rather, redefines it categorically. Another question that needs asking
is that: if the Bible wasn't present to humankind, would people still have the same idea of a
maximally great being that is God?.
3.0 Conclusion
Evidently, the ontological argument requires intense reflection and clear thought. For most
people, the argument is either beyond comprehension or goes beyond practicality. Based on
the arguments presented, the ontological argument lacks evidence to support the existence of
a Superior being or existence of a semi-powerful being.
The argument, however, does present a valid argument for the existence of a maximally
excellent being that theist considers rational and persuasive. It provides a good foundation for
other arguments to support it and if not, doesn't pose a threat to other theistic arguments in
support of God.
4.0 References:
Anselm, S. (2009). Proslogion. Retrieved from https://philpapers.org/rec/ANSP
Cupitt, D. (1980). Taking leave of God. Retrieved from https://philpapers.org/rec/CUPTLO
Dawkins, R. (2008). The God Delusion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Millican, P. (2004). The one fatal flaw in Anselm’s argument. Mind, 113(451), 437476.
Plantinga, A. (1966). Kant’s objection to the ontological argument. The Journal of
Philosophy, 63(19), 537546.
Plantinga, A. (1968). The ontological argument. Macmillan. Retrieved from

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