In brief St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument for God’s existence can be summed up in his own words: “that than which nothing greater can conceived.”
It follows the following premises and conclusion:
- God is the greatest possible being.
- The greatest possible being must possess qualities that make it greater than would be otherwise.
- Real existence is greater than imaginary existence.
- The greatest possible being must have the quality of real existence.
- God therefore exists.
My worry therefore arises that when we speak of the greatest possible being that can be conceived, whose conceiving mind is in consideration? We have varying levels of intelligence and creativity; therefore, it leads me to wonder whether it is upon every man to theorize and come up with his own ideas on the qualities of this greatest possible being or whether it’s a collective consensus that concludes with agreed upon qualities because a conundrum is birthed that if I conceived the “Greatest Possible Being” as one with the biggest and strongest muscles possible and then someone else conceived a being who is so great that he doesn’t need muscles to do anything; a simple word of mouth would suffice, or even, running with that same train of thought, one who would never need to move his lips let alone a muscle and therefore, wouldn’t need and subsequently have any muscles; all they’d need is to conceive the idea in their mind and it would happen, then are we all conceiving the same God? If I said God is omnipotent and someone else said that that his God is so great that the simple English term “omnipotent” for his does not suffice, should we conclude that it is the same God? I am aware that this does not in any way prove or disprove the existence of God but it simply begs the question whether we all conceive of the same God if we are to go by St. Anselm’s argument and look at qualities of this that than which nothing greater can be conceived.
If I am to run with St. Anselm’s argument, can’t I disprove of the Christian God as the true God by stating that it is better to not threaten than to threaten? Isn’t it therefore, the greatest possible being would not allow any human being to suffer eternal damnation if they had the power to avert it? Going with that same train of thought, isn’t a God who never created evil greater than one who did? Are we to say that the greatest possible being who is God, is to have every quality that makes him greater and leave it at that, or are we to delve deeper and expound on these qualities to arrive at a sole God which brings me to question why St. Anselm did not give us a definitive answer as to whether it is all religions that believe in an unseen God, and one that than which nothing greater can be conceived that perceive and worship the same God.
I also find myself running into a grievous problem, the basic concept of the greatest possible being already presupposes we cannot understand this greatest possible being because I have already conceived that the greatest possible being is one who is so complex that my mere human brain cannot comprehend, and therefore, any argument to the effect of proving the existence cannot be definitive because we cannot claim to understand that which in essence supposes it cannot be understood; therefore, I conclude that an argument to the effect of proving God’s existence seems to me as one that should be engaged in by people who want to grow their belief by settling the cognitive dissonance that’s the pull between rational thinking and faith by moving from faith to rationale on the spectrum that reinforces faith, because it seems to me a very difficult task to move a non-believer from no faith to faith by way of rational thinking that this being exists. This has become very clear to me based on the fact that it is not an ordinary philosopher like many of who have brought forth such arguments with regard to the question of faith vs reason, it is a man of the cloth who has already taken sides and therefore seems to me biased and is in essence, reinforcing his existing faith rather than building foundation for belief based on rationale; I’d like to assume that with a proper argument against the existence of God St. Anselm would be inclined towards denouncing his faith, but that does not seem the case.
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