Existence of God

st. thomas aquinas
Anselm of Canterbury, Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Aquinas, William Paley, David Hume

Philosophers and Existence of God

Anselm of Canterbury

Ontological argument

  1. It is a conceptual truth (or, so to speak, true by definition) that God is a being than which none greater can be imagined (that is, the greatest possible being that can be imagined).
  2. God exists as an idea in the mind.
  3. A being that exists as an idea in the mind and in reality is, other things being equal, greater than a being that exists only as an idea in the mind.
  4. Thus, if God exists only as an idea in the mind, then we can imagine something that is greater than God (that is, a greatest possible being that does exist).
  5. But we cannot imagine something that is greater than God (for it is a contradiction to suppose that we can imagine a being greater than the greatest possible being that can be imagined.)
  6. Therefore, God exists.

Gaunilo of Marmoutiers

The “Lost Island” refutation

  1. The Lost Island is that than which no greater island can be conceived. (Definition)
  2. The Lost Island exists in the mind, but not in reality. (Premise to be reduced to absurdity)
  3. Existence in reality is greater than existence in the understanding alone. (Premise)
  4. It is conceivable that the Lost Island exists in reality. (Premise)
  5. It is conceivable that there is an island greater than the Lost Island. (Follows from 2, 3, and 4)
  6. It is conceivable that there is an island greater than that island than which no greater island can be conceived. (Follows from 1 and 5)

Immanuel Kant

“Existence is not a predicate”

Predicate is something that’s said of another object.

Being is evidently not a real predicate, that is, a conception of something which is added to the conception of some other thing. It is merely the positing of a thing, or of certain determinations in it. Logically, it is merely the copula of a judgement. The proposition, God is omnipotent, contains two conceptions, which have a certain object or content; the word is, is no additional predicate—it merely indicates the relation of the predicate to the subject. Now, if I take the subject (God) with all its predicates (omnipotence being one), and say: God is, or, There is a God, I add no new predicate to the conception of God, I merely posit or affirm the existence of the subject with all its predicates—I posit the object in relation to my conception. The content of both is the same; and there is no addition made to the conception, which expresses merely the possibility of the object, by my cogitating the object—in the expression, it is—as absolutely given or existing. Thus the real contains no more than the possible.

Thomas Aquinas

Quinque viæ

  1. Argument of the Unmoved Mover
  2. Argument of the First Cause
  3. Argument from Contingency
  4. Argument from Degree
  5. Teleological Argument

William Paley

Teleological Argument

The Watchmaker Analogy – Intelligent Design

  1. The complex inner workings of a watch necessitate an intelligent designer.
  2. As with a watch, the complexity of X (a particular organ or organism, the structure of the solar system, life, the universe, anything complex) necessitates a designer.

David Hume

The world, for aught he knows, is very faulty and imperfect, compared to a superior standard; and was only the first rude essay of some infant deity who afterwards abandoned it, ashamed of his lame performance: It is the work only of some dependent, inferior deity, and is the object of derision to his superiors: It is the production of old age and dotage in some superannuated deity; and ever since his death has run on at adventures, from the first impulse and active force which it received from him.


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