Many thinkers (not to mention millions of people at some points in their lives) tried to explain what God is and prove His existence. Anselm is regarded as the father of the “scholastic theology” and the pioneer in “natural theology” (Hindson and Mitchell 36). He was one of the first philosophers to seek reason when explaining and proving God’s existence. At the same time, Anselm’s approach has faced significant criticism as it is believed to be rather controversial.
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One of the pillars of Anselm’s reasoning is that God is the perfect being, and there is nothing greater. The philosopher refers to God as the being “than which nothing greater can be conceived” (qtd. in Warburton 46). The thinker also argues that God exists since people have an idea of him. Therefore, the two concepts, God’s greatness and people’s faith (or even knowledge), prove that God exists according to Anselm.
The philosopher’s illustration of the concept concerned with the painter and his picture may seem quite sound. Anselm’s approach is also highly valued as it was one of the earliest attempts to find a logical explanation and evidence of God’s existence (Brown 224). The thinker tried to provide what people seek. People are always eager to understand and be sure in everything, especially in such important spheres such as faith, existence as well as the purpose of life.
Nonetheless, various thinkers have claimed that Anselm’s arguments are weak and reasoning poorly grounded. For instance, many philosophers (especially Anselm’s contemporaries) did not believe that logic and reason can work in theology (Olson 99). Many people have still believed that faith does not need any proof, and the idea of God cannot be fully perceived due to the limited capacity of the human mind (Ellingsen 218). At the same time, those who are willing to find evidence to prove God’s existence also criticize Anselm’s logic. The fact that the perfect being should necessarily exist seems rather vague.
The value of his approach is not in Anselm’s particular pieces of evidence. His insights into the nature of faith are quite remarkable. Thus, the philosopher stresses that all people (believers and non-believers) can see that God exists through reasoning (Pina-Cabral 165).
Thus, Anselm does not simply postulate some pillars of religion and emphasizes the importance to believe with no attempts to explain, which was common for the Medieval period. The thinker tries to show that people can prove that God exists. Anselm is one of the first philosophers to admit the need to prove such an important aspect of Christianity. This approach becomes especially remarkable in the view of the thought of the 21st century as modern people need to have some evidence to have a firm belief in anything.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that Anselm’s approach has some drawbacks as his logic is quite debatable. Thus, the concepts of perfection and impossibility of God’s non-existence seem rather vague and poorly grounded. However, the idea that God exists if people can think of Him is valuable as the researcher brings human cognition to the fore. More so, the contribution of the thinker in theology is difficult to overestimate. Anselm was one of the pioneers who sought evidence to prove that God existed. The thinker attempted to show that reasoning can help people strengthen their faith.
Brown, Stephen F. “Early Period.” The Columbia History of Western Philosophy. Ed. Richard Henry Popkin. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. 219-230. Print.
Ellingsen, Mark. Reclaiming Our Roots, Volume I: An Inclusive Introduction to Church History: The Last First Century to the Eve of the Reformation. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012. Print.
Hindson, Edward E. and Daniel R. Mitchell. The Popular Encyclopedia of Church History: The People, Places, and Events that Shaped Christianity. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2013. Print.
Olson, Roger E. God in Dispute: “Conversations” Among Great Christian Thinkers. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009. Print.
Pina-Cabral, Joao. “World: Anthropological Examination.” Journal of Ethnographic Theory 4.3 (2014): 149-184. Print.
Warburton, Nigel. A Little History of Philosophy. Carnwall: Yale University Press, 2012. Print.