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Sample Essay on Ontological Argument

 Ontological Argument

The Ontological argument is an argument for God’s existence based entirely on reason. According to the argument, there is no need to wander around looking for physical evidence of the existence of God; we can easily work out that he exists just by thinking about it. Ontological argument purports to be an a priori proof of the existence of God. The argument was first proposed by St Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century. His main aim was to refute claims by some people that God does not exist. In his view, the atheist is not just mistaken but internally inconsistent.

St Anselm in his proposition of the ontological argument claimed to have derived the existence of God from the concept of being than which no greater can be conceived. He reasoned that, in case such a being fails to exist, then a greater being –namely, a being than which no greater can be conceived, and which exists- can be conceived. However, this would be absurd in that, nothing can be greater than a being than which no greater can be conceived. Thus, a being than which no greater can be conceived- i.e. God exists.

The ontological argument asserts that that idea by some people that God does not exist is just as absurd as the ideaImage 2 that a four-sided triangle does. According to the argument, we can easily tell that the claim that God does not exist is false without having to look into it in any detail. The claim that God does not exist is self contradictory. The argument further points out that, to call something that is not all-powerful God would be like calling a shape that does not have three sides a triangle, which would not make any sense.

According to the ontological argument, God is perfect and all-powerful. If something is perfect, then it could not possibly be better than it is, there cannot be anything better than perfection. If we think of God as perfect, then we must think of God as a being that cannot be imagined to be better than it is. It is therefore, impossible to conceive either of there being anything much greater than God or of it being possible to imagine God being better than he already is.

Despite several people having supported the Ontological argument, it has also received its fair share of criticisms. For instance, Immanuel Kant, in his Critique of Pure Reason claims that ontological arguments are vitiated by their reliance upon the implicit assumption that existence is more of a predicate. However, as Bertrand Russel observed, it is much easier to be convinced that ontological arguments are no good than it is to say exactly what is wrong with them. This helps in explaining the reason why ontological arguments have fascinated many philosophers for over a thousand years. According to another critic, Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, using the analogy of a perfect island, he suggested that the ontological argument could be used in proving the existence of anything.

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