Existence of God
There are two main opposing arguments the existence of God. St.Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) developed one of the manyphilosophical theories, arguments and models that explain theexistence of God. Anselm’s argument, an ontological one, claimsthat the existence of God is a conceptual truth. Another majorargument was developed by St. Thomas Aquinas. Scientific theories onthe other hand oppose thee ontological arguments. This paperdiscusses Anslem’s argument and its criticism by Gaunilo and alsolooks at St. Thomas Aquinas’ arguments in contrast to the Big BangTheory.
Anselm makes his arguments in a series of claims that can be looselygrouped into two steps. In the first step, he makes one claim thatwhatever can be understood exists in the mind. He makes a secondclaim that the concept of God can be understood even by a fool. Thisadds up to say that God exists because He can be understood in themind and that which can be understood by the mind exists. ThereforeGod exists in the mind.
In the secondstep, Anselm uses a “reductio” argument approach to furtherassert that God exists, not just in the mind but in reality. Heclaims that it can be assumed that God exists in the mind(understanding) and not in reality. However, a greater being than Godthat exists in reality can be thought, but according to the firstdefinition in step one (God is a being than which a greater thoughcannot be thought) means that there is no greater being than can bethought. This means makes the first claim in the second step that Godexists in the mind only invalid. It is also true that God exists inin the mind/understanding something that even a Fool agrees to. Theconclusion is then that God exists both in reality and in the mind.Roughly summarised, Anslem argues that, God, being “that than whichno greater can be thought of,” must be, for if he is not then itwould be possible to think of another existing being in reality,which would be greater than “that than which no greater can bethough of,” which is absurd.
A monk named Gaunilo was among the first people to oppose andcriticize St. Anselm’s argument on God’s existence. He claimedthat Anslem’s argument was too strong. He challenged the validityof the argument by saying that such a line of argument could be usedto argue for existence of things that did not actually exist inreality. Gaunilo presented his arguments in the book “on behalf ofthe fool” where he used an example of a “perfect island” todiscredit Anselm’s work. He used Anslem’s reasoning to arguethat:
If Anslem’s proof of existence of a greatest conceivable being was valid, then there could also be valid proof for a greatest conceivable island.
There is no sound proof of the existence of a greatest conceivable island.
This leads to theconclusion that Anslem’s argument that god exists is invalid andfalse. This is clearly validated by the example provided by Gaunilowho says that using the same reasoning, concluding that the greatestimaginable island exists in reality and not just in the mind is falseand invalid. He argued that a proper description of the greatestimaginable island to which one can understand how it looks like, whatit contain and such matters does not mean that the island exists inreality.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275) developed five proofs on God’sexistence. The first three are considered the mains ones. The firstone proof is motion. He believed that things in motion in theuniverse were put in motion by another thing. However, this cannot goon to infinity and thus there must be a first mover who is God.
The second proof is that efficient cause which implies that somethinghas to be caused by another. This proof follows the same reasoning asthe first to say that causation cannot go to infinity but there mustthe original cause which is God.
The third proofis that the existence of nature must have a beginning and thatnothing can originate from nothing.
These proofs have oftentimes been contrasted against the big bangtheory fronted by cosmologists. Recent discoveries by cosmologistshave suggested that the universe expanded many times the speed oflight after the big bang. This affirms the process of change that St.Aquinas addresses in his arguments. However, St. Aquinas avoids thediscussion on what the creation process entailed which tends to claimnothing has changed as opposed to the big bang theory. Nonetheless,Aquinas identifies God as the very beginning of everything while thecosmologists are yet to identify the core source of everything.
The many theories of life and the universe vary. Many are based ondifferent premises and reasoning. However, some share their reasoningor premises or both. Whatever the case, researchers, oncologists, andphilosophers will continue to engage in further debate and researchto better understand the universe and its origins.