Many theologians tried to prove the existence of God and Anselm of Canterbury was one of them. His claims are based on the idea that human beings can know or understand the Supreme Being. Moreover, he does offer any evidence to support his proof. This is one of its major limitations. This paper is aimed at discussing Anselm’s arguments in more detail.
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In order to explain his opinion, Anself focused on logical proof of God’s existence. First of all, he argued that God is a supreme being that cannot be improved. Overall, in his opinion, God is superior to everything else. However, he does not support this claim, even though it is a starting point for his discussion.
This philosopher believes that if a person understands that God exists, then it is possible that God exists in reality. Furthermore, he thinks that such notions as justice or goodness imply that there has to be a perfect being that represents greatness or justice. Anselm believes that something can be excellent or superior only if it exists in reality.
Critics have raised objections to Anselm’s argument about God’s existence, and their doubts are well-founded. One of these scholars was Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. He claimed that it is possible for a person to conceive a perfect island in one’s mind. However, it does not mean such an island will necessarily exist. In this way, Gaunilo showed the limitations of this argument. In his turn, Anselm pointed out that Gaunilo spoke an island, which belonged to the class of material objects while God was all-embracing or universal.
The island or any material object can be improved but the same is not true about God. The problem with this explanation is that Anselm already assumes that God has reached a state of perfection in the beginning of his ontological argument. So, his proof is based on the claim that Anselm did not prove at the very beginning. However, this theologian does not actually compel God that cannot be improved or that it is a superior being.
There are other critics of Anselm’s proof, for example, Immanuel Kant who dedicated much time to philosophical reasoning. He believed that scholar had to find a link between his claim and an external concept. For instance, one can say that a stove is hot only if the stove exists. Provided that this stove is not present, one cannot say whether it is hot or not. Similarly, one should claim that God is perfect if the being exists. This is why Anselm’s logic is questionable.
Anselm’s argument is also based on the premise that it is possible to understand God. He says that if a person has the ability to understand God and then refuses to believe that he exists, then the person is a fool. However, this statement assumes that human beings have the capacity to understand a perfect and excellent being. Other scholars, such as Aquinas, assert that it is not possible to fully understand the essence of God. Furthermore, it is not possible to know the essence of something without necessarily understanding its true form or nature. Therefore, people can question the validity of Anselm’s proof.
Perhaps, one of the biggest problems with this explanation of God’s existence is the lack of empirical data or observational data from real life. A priori arguments always create problems in scholarly circles because they can be easily contradicted or eliminated.
When discussing concepts in the human mind, one must be open to the possibility of conceiving something that exists or does not exist. It is not a contradiction to assume that something does not exist, even when people speak about God. Instead, one should consider other arguments that may be used by theologians or philosophers.
On the whole, Anselm’s proof is fundamentally flawed because his reasoning is based on the claim that he did not prove at the very beginning. Additionally, he assumes that human beings can understand a perfect and eternal being. Finally, he does not provide any evidence in order to support his arguments. Still, the shortcomings of Anselm’s argument should not be used to prove the principles of atheism.