Arguments for the Existence of God: A Look at St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument for God and why it Fails

St. Anselm, philosopher and theologian of the Catholic Church, attempted to construct an ontological (of or relating to existence) argument for the existence of God—specifically, a God whose qualities resemble that of the Catholic God. Anselm argues that because we can think of God (denoted in his argument as the greatest conceivable being), we would be contradicting ourselves to say that God does not exist, for existence would surely be a quality of the greatest conceivable being. In this paper, after explaining the terminology and arguments used by Anselm, I will employ a proof by contradiction to demonstrate that Anselm’s argument forces us to accept the highly improbable conclusion that all possible beings exist. Lastly, I will present one possible objection to my conclusion and a response.

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