- Area: Humanities
- Program: Philosophy
- Type of Writing: Essay (Argumentative)
- Course Level: 1000
- English Speaking Nativeness: Multi-Lingual Native
- Paper ID: H.P.E.1.M.N.5
Holy Grail of Philosophy
Proving the existence of god has been attempted by many. It is the single biggest notion that has been able to elude a definite answer since men could comprehend the idea of “god”. This omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent figure, idea, “thing” that could be the sole reason for the existence of everything. Proving or disproving this is the holy grail of all philosophy I believe, but only one can be true. Either this idea of “god” exist as an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present figure or it doesn’t. Either proof with the power to revolutionize all science and philosophy today by proving this being or essence is the creator of everything or once and for all eliminating this being that is not bound by the laws of nature and all-powerful.
St. Anselm’s writing in the Monologion and Proslogion made great points towards trying to prove the existence of everything must exist through “one thing” and later in the Proslogion taking it one step further to make it clear that this “one thing” he was referring to was god. Not necessarily the God of Abraham but “god” in the sense of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good figure.
Thomas Aquinas on the other hand some good reasons for the existence of god as well but most notably he addresses the ancient argument that could also lead to the disproving the existence of this all-good god Anselm was trying to prove called “The Problem of Evil.” The notion was if “god” was all-powerful and all-good why would he let evil exist? Why not get rid of all the suffering, hatred, and evil acts and let us live in kind and caring world? “If God can prevent the destructive suffering of the innocent, yet chooses not to, God is not good. If God chooses to prevent the suffering, but cannot, he is not omnipotent. If God cannot recognize the suffering of the innocent, he is not wise,” (Soccio, p.239) clearly contradicting the idea of God that many believe.
Taking these three arguments into the consideration I believe the more rational belief is that god exist based on the two arguments that Anselm gives as proof for the existence of God. In the Monologion he starts right of in reasoning that “there is something that is best and greatest and supreme among all existing things.” (Monologion p.10) His arguments are as follows 1) Every existing thing exist either through something, or through nothing. Everything came from something at one point. Humans through evolution, Earth through space dust, and you can keep retracing back even further. 2) Nothing exist through nothing. It’s a definition through itself, nothing is nothing so it can’t exist which means it exist through nothing. 3) Whatever exist, exist through something. Everything has something that it came from or exist through, like oxygen though photosynthesis, the Sun through fusion, and all existing things birthed though something. 4) Everything must exist through one thing or though several things. With the first three premises in place everything exists through either one or several things. (Notes)
The first three notions are unarguable I believe. Everything that exist, exist through something. We came from our parents, and them from their parents, etc. and you can follow that back when everything began, while we may not know that exact point we can infer something about the 4th premise that everything must exist through one thing or though several things. He goes on to say that everything must exist through one thing and not several things because those serval things must come from something because if those serval things existed through each other one of them had to be there before the other things in order to be able to create the rest so, it contradicts itself. If those things existed through themselves (power of self-existence) then that power is still “one thing”. “So, all other existing things exist through another; he alone exists though himself.,” “Therefore, there is something (whether he is called an essence or a substance or a nature) that is best and greatest and supreme among all existing things.” (Monologion, p.13)
These are attributes consistent with our idea of what God is and for some this enough to at least respect the proof that is given for God’s existence but for others it is not. This “one thing” doesn’t mean it is the ‘God of Abraham’ but it does prove that this “one thing” is the creator of everything, and who is often referred to as “God”. With Anselm Proslogion and its four premises together with the Monologion create a strong argument and is what solidifies that rational belief that God exist more than God does not exist.
In the Proslogion he has four premises as proof for the existence of God. 1) God is something that which nothing greater can be thought. 2) God exist in the understanding. 3) God cannot exist only in the understanding. 4) For, if God exist only in understanding; he can be thought of to exist in reality as well. (Notes) With the first premise I challenge anyone to think of something greater than the idea of god, you can’t think something that more than all-powerful, all-knowing, etc., which leads to second premise.
While you may or may not believe in this “God” essence, nature, figure or whatever you might describe it as there is no doubt that this “idea” of God exists in everyone’s understanding. You ask someone within reason to give you a definition of what God is in their eyes and they’ll probably list one of God’s attributes whether that be omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, etc. This leads to the last two premises, for if we can think of God to be this all-powerful, all-loving, all-present “essence” then there is no way we can just “think” he exists in just our understanding because if we’ve already accepted the first premise of him being something than which nothing greater can be thought, then God must exist in reality, for God existing in reality as well is greater than just existing in our understanding thus meaning God exists in both our understanding and reality.
The Problem of Evil discussed by Thomas Aquinas was the biggest contradiction for the existence of this God we speak of that is supposed to be all-loving, all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful, etc. How could something so good and powerful let people suffer, feel pain, or experience any kind of said “evils”. It goes against everything that God is, but I believe this problem of evil does more to enforce the existence of God instead of disproving it. You can’t just say God is the creator of everything except evil, that in itself is contradictory and must mean that god is not all-powerful and if he’s not all-powerful then there is no god. (Soccio, p.239)
Evil and the evil acts we see in our world whether it’s suffering, torture, starvation, murder of human lives might be contradicting what God is but it also makes us know what this essence or being is. How could we know what an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving being is if we didn’t know the opposite of all that. What I’m saying is our ability to experience evil shows us what good is. I don’t think this idea of god could exist if we didn’t have evil in our lives. We wouldn’t know he was all-good because we wouldn’t know what it means to be “good” and we wouldn’t know he was all-loving because we wouldn’t know what “love” meant if we never experience “evil” and “hate” or if were forced to love him then that wouldn’t be love in its true meaning.
There for God created a place for “evil” to exist for in-order to know what this being is you must know its opposite. Hence why I think it enforces his existence and why I believe he created it and lets it exist because without it I don’t believe God as we define him could exist. We wouldn’t know what all-good, all-powerful, all-loving, etc. meant. To know what those things mean is to know its opposite, to know what good, powerful, and loving means is to know what evil, weakness, and hate is otherwise it would both would meaningless by themselves.
All arguments are great in trying to prove or disprove God’s existence in a way that looks at the different aspects associated with this all-powerful and creator or everything essence, but I believe the most rational in these three arguments would be Anselm and his arguments for the existence of god because he makes a great argument when saying that all that exist either exist through one thing or through serval things but as stated earlier it couldn’t serval things so it must be “one thing”. Everything in this world can be retraced back to the starting point which is this essence that is the creator of everything. This one things created whatever caused a chain reaction to form the cosmos, life, and everything as we know it to be today and who is best referred to as God and while “evil” might be contradicting to who God is I believe it was necessary for God to give “evil” a place in the world in order for us to comprehend and fully appreciate that God is this all-good, loving, knowing, and powerful being.
- Soccio, Douglas “Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy”, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 8th edition, 2013. Print.
- Anselm Monologion
- Anselm Proslogion
- Class Notes