A2 EDEXCEL Religious Studies, Ontological Argument

An overview of the ontological argument, again using the Reid and Tyler "A2 Religious Studies" book, wellington college powerpoint and a couple of bits from notes I found on here but can't remember who by- sorry!

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A2 EDEXCEL Religious Studies.
Ontological Argument
What type of Argument is it?
The argument is "A Priori"- means it is not based on experience of the world,
but comes to a conclusion that is logically necessary. It is deductive,
meaning if the premises are accepted, they logically entail the necessity of
the conclusion. The argument is also analytic, as it is true by definition- the
argument reaches conclusions about God based on the definition of God
used in the premises.
Anselm was the archbishop of Canterbury. He's long dead- but when he was
around everyone believed in God. For this reason, some argue that rather than
Anselm trying to prove God (there wasn't a great audience to prove it to!) he
was actually trying to justify faith.
Anselm prayed for a simple, short argument that could prove God, and
everything about God (nature, existence).....
And he got...THE ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT, based on reductio ad
absurdum, which aims to reduce any argument to the contrary as absurd.
His `findings' were published in his book `The Proslogian' in 1078
In Proslogian 2 the first Ontological argument was proposed-
1. God is That Than Which No Greater Can Be Conceived;
2. It is greater for something to exist in reality and the mind, than just in
the mind alone;
3. That Than Which No Greater Can Be Conceived cannot exist in the mind
alone, because something greater could be thought of, namely that
same thing existing in the mind and reality;
4. To claim that That Than Which No Greater Can Be Conceived exists in the
mind alone, contradicts our definition and it is no longer the greatest
thing that can be thought of.
5. Therefore, God must exist.

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A2 EDEXCEL Religious Studies.
In Proslogion 3 the second form of Ontological argument was proposed-
1) Something that cannot not exist (necessary existence) is greater than
something which could not exist (contingent existence).
2) If `That than which no greater can be conceived', could be thought to not
exist, this would contradict our definition because it would no longer be the
greatest thing we could think of.
3) Therefore, God must exist necessarily.…read more

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A2 EDEXCEL Religious Studies.
Gaunilo REJECTS Anselm's argument;
Gaunilo himself believed in God- he just
thought that Anselm's arguments were a
bit rubbish.
He used Anselm's logic in relation to an
Think of an Island. White sand...clear seas...
Just because you think of this Island does it
Gaunilo says that, using Anselm's logic, it HAS to exist, "for if it did not exist,
any other land existing in reality would be more excellent than it".
BUT, Anselm isn't giving up yet....…read more

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A2 EDEXCEL Religious Studies.
Uh ohhhhhh.…read more

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A2 EDEXCEL Religious Studies.
Hmmm. ..that's right.
A triangle has 3 sides, and angles equal two right-angles..
God is perfect, and must exist.... Obviously.
Objection's to the Ontological Arguments;
1) Disputed one of the most fundamental
parts of Descartes' and Anselm's
arguments. The idea of existence as a
predicate- a quality that can be
possessed....…read more

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A2 EDEXCEL Religious Studies.
3) The greater the limitations of this creator, the more impressive
the achievement.
4) The greatest limitation possible is non-existence.
5) Therefore, a world created by a non-existent creator would be
greater than a world created by an existent creator.
6) An existing God is therefore not the greatest conceivable being,
since it would be even greater if he did not exist
Conc: God doesn't exist.…read more

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A2 EDEXCEL Religious Studies.
Malcolm; The statement `God Necessarily Exists' can either be impossible,
possible or necessary. The existence is only impossible if it contains a logical
contradiction. So a four sided triangle is impossible. But `God necessarily exists'
doesn't contain a contradiction. So we can rule impossibility of existing out...
Possible means contingent, God could or couldn't exist- it's not essential that
he does...but by definition this isn't the type of existence God can have.
Therefore, he exist necessarily.…read more

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A2 EDEXCEL Religious Studies.…read more


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