Almost everyone at some particular point in his or her life has challenged the existence of God. This may happen for a number of reasons. For example he or she might have been at a point in their life when their faith alone was just not enough for them to believe. Humans have a natural instinct to find reasons for events that can't be explained. For some, the existence of God may help give them the answers they are looking for. Philosophers spend a great deal of their time trying to prove or to disprove the existence of God.
One philosopher that confronted God's existence was Anselm. Anselm was the Archbishop of Canterbury and was a very influential philosopher between Augustine and Aquinas. He proposed his argument for God's existence. His ontological argument is based on the thought of God as the highest being.
Anselm's argument is different from other philosophers simply because of it's premise. He saw a need for a precise logical philosophy as a way for making faith mature, not as a substitute for faith. Because Anselm already believed in God, he was only looking for rational support for this belief. Therefore Anselm's method of proving God's existence is called 'Faith seeking understanding.' ; He proclaims 'I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order that I may understand'; (Stumpf, 372-372). Anselm had to believe in God in order to support his own rational for God's existence. To help prove his belief, Ansley he uses his mind.
He claims, 'Now we believe that You are something than which nothing greater can be thought.' ; He then questions, 'Does this something, than which nothing greater can be thought, really exist?' ; (Stumpf 373). Anselm also sites Psalm 13: 1 which reads,' The fool has said in his heart: There is no God.' ; When a fool hears the question, 'Does this something than which nothing greater can be thought really exist,' ; he understands what he is hearing. The fool follows what this question because it is in his intellect. Next Anselm shows how something can exist in the intellect even before the intellectual knows that it exist.
He tries to explain this statement by giving an example of a painter contemplating what he is going to paint next. At this point the painter has in his intellect an understanding of what he will paint but not an understanding that the portrait prevails. Because of this the fool can comprehend 'something than which nothing greater can be thought'; even though he doesn't know that it exists. After showing that even the fool agrees with the idea of God existing in the mind, Anselm moves toward implementing the idea that God exists outside of the mind.
Anyone can think of something greater than a being which exists as an idea in the intellect. That is the actual existence of that being for which there is no greater (Stumpf 373). As an example, one can think of an island which exists only in his intellect. Since it is only in his intellect as an idea, he then can think of something greater.
That something greater would be the island actually existing. So, if something exists only in the mind, like a yellow island, a greater something can be thought of, such as areal yellow island. Therefore, if God is only present in the mind, it is possible to think of something greater. However, if even a fool agrees with the statement, 'that something than which nothing greater can be though exists in the mind'; (Stumpf 373). Therefore, this something, or God must exist in reality. This is because nothing greater can be thought of other than God.
This theory or proof put forth by Anselm came under though inspection by a Benedictine monk named Guanilon. He argued that the proof Anselm offers is inadequate. He disputed that the first part of the proof was literally impossible. 'It requires that there be in the understanding an idea of God, that upon hearing this word the fool is expected to have a conception of that which there is no greater'; (Stumpf 374).
Guanilon continues to state that a fool could not possibly from such an idea. A fool does not have the previous experiences or realities to compare to such a great being. He claims that if human could create such a great being, 'no 'proof' would be necessary.' ; Guanilon find the fault in Anselm's argument because the argument only tries to prove the concept of the existence of God. One can also think of a orange island, but there is no way that it can be proved. Saint Thomas Aquinas adds more proof to the existence of God through the proof from efficient cause. 'Thomas Aquinas' thought is the product of a man of genius, coming at a time in which Western intellectualism and education reached a peak in the first flowering of the great universities'; (Aquinas, xix).
His life and works had much influence on others. People referred to him as being an innovator of philosophy for his thoughts on proving God's existence. In the proof from efficient cause, Aquinas states, 'Whatever belongs to a being is either caused by the principles of its nature... or it comes to it from some extrinsic principle... it is impossible that the act of existing be caused by a thing's form'; (Aquinas, 159). In other words, everything that we experience in life is based on a previous happening.
As long as the cause comes before the effect, nothing can be before itself. There has to be a series of efficient causes since it goes along with the thought that a being cannot cause itself. In this series there is three causes. The first being the ultimate causes which is brought on by the intermediate causes. The intermediate causes stems from the primary causes. Therefore, 'if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause'; (Stumpf, 380).
We must then conclude that an original efficient cause is existent. This element has no prior cause because by definition it is the first efficient cause. This first cause is therefore has to be known as God. Other philosophers provided criticism for both Anselm's ontological proof and Aquinas' efficient cause.
One of them is Immanuel Kant. He attacks the ontological argument by saying,' it is all verbal exercise, for the essence of this proof is that since we have the idea of a most perfect being, it would be contradictory to say that such a being does not exist'; (Stumpf, 390). The contradiction arises because of humans idea of a perfect being. The ontological argument says that a 'being which does not exist can hardly be considered a perfect being'; (Stumpf, 390).
The outstanding flaw in this proof is that there is no statement way it is a necessity to have a God. A contradiction occurs when everyone agrees that a perfect being does exist but was not all knowing. Kant's argument establishes the fact that by simply saying a supreme being is all knowing does not prove God's existence. Kant then challenges Aquinas' proof of efficient cause.
Kant says that man has knowledge of causality but insisted that human knowledge is limited in its scope. Knowledge is limited to experience in one sense, yet 'experience cannot show us that every change must have a cause since we have not yet experienced every chance'; (Stumpf, 299). Because of this humans have to rely solely on their rational judgment for things that cannot be experienced. However, this rational judgment is also, 'limited by the manner in which our faculties of perception and thinking organize the raw data of experience'; (Stumpf, 304). In other words, everything that is known is only known by how the mind lets us know it. Things that are visualized by humans are not always received in the mind the way that they appear in reality.
The mind can perceive things the way it wants to. Through the philosopher's arguments covered in this paper, there is legitimate proof for and against the existence of God. In my opinion, a God can only exist if one wants Him to. Although one can always rely on he arguments to help support his views. If one does not truly believe that a God exists he can find another argument to support God's non-existence. I have been brought up to believe in the existence of God however, Have come to question His existence.
When I was younger, I used to believe but as I gained new knowledge I began to question if there really was a God. Some people can have faith alone and succeed just fine, while others need written proof of the existence of God. All of the philosophers mentioned either give support for or against for those who need written proof. I believe that He was created for the sole purpose of people to believe in something that is on some sort of higher level than everyone else. If God does really exist then those who believe now will eventually reach their ending place in life.
For those who live in question of His existence will also end up at their own future ending place.