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Ontologically Speaking

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God. . . ”  

So begins Psalm 14 (ESV).  It was this fool that Anselm sought to reach with his arguments in the 11th Century.  While we will most certainly post our take on his arguments as they have been advanced through the years, that is not the purpose of this post.  Rather, the purpose is to highlight something that is perhaps just under the surface of them.

 

For those unfamiliar with St. Anselm and/or his arguments, he basically stated that the existence of God is guaranteed.  For our purposes, it is sufficient to think of the argument in these simplified terms:

  1. We can picture a "being" that is greater than any other possible, and we call this God.
  2. Such a being that does not actually exist would be inferior to one that had the same qualities plus existence.
  3. Therefore, the non-existent being would not be the greatest conceivable being, while the existent being would be.
  4. If God does not exist in reality, God would not be the greatest conceivable being, but - by definition - He is.
  5. Therefore, God exists in reality (and by necessity, ultimately).

Now, as I stated earlier, I have no desire to dive into the substance, merits and critiques of the argument in this post.  The argument - to some - seems too simple to be of value.  To others, it is too philosophical or esoteric.  Suffice to say that this argument has been refined and hotly critiqued for over 900 years.1  Yet - at its core - it still stands as one of the most powerful arguments for the existence of God ever presented.

900+ years of rigorous thought, critique, attack, refinement.  Yet it stands.  On reason alone.  There is nothing to add or subtract - save, of course, a more full-throated presentation than I am providing here.

We live in an age of disconnect.  Among the disconnections is that so many see some form of scientific, data-driven analysis as the only means to knowledge, yet base their lives and decisions almost exclusively on emotion.  Where has reason gone?  Is it deemed no longer needed?

We can point to wonderful observations about this world and universe that strongly suggest the presence of God.  We can read the prophetic and penetrating words of Scripture and know the Divine was its author.2  However, we should also make use of the spark of reason granted us by God in creation, and Anselm's arguments, as refined over the centuries, provide a good opportunity to do so and to see the truth of God's existence from yet another perspective.

It's part of who we are.  It would be foolish not to.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

 

 


 

1The argument(s) were first presented in Proslogium, written between 1077-1078.

2A quick example of this would be Genesis 22:17 (ESV): I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. . .."  The quantitative comparison between sand and stars would make little sense to someone who - with the naked eye - would only be able to see approximately 5,000 stars (high estimate).  Where does this extravagant reference come from but God?

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All content on this site is believed to be consistent with Biblical teachings and also with historical and current understanding in the areas of science, logic, mathematics, philosophy, and history.  However, Sensus Dei encourages all readers of the information contained on this site to always test everything against the infallible Word of God.

May God richly bless you as you utilize this site to deepen your understanding and appreciation for all He has done.

-Glen Torhjelm, Executive Director