“Whether you call the principle of existence “God,” “matter,” “energy,” or anything else you like, you have created nothing; you have merely changed a symbol.

― Carl Gustave Jung

Many religions, especially the ones from the West were based on God’s beliefs, and the believers of those religions wished to become immortal, and that was known as possible only if they kept their faith and did well in life. Humans also feared death, and because of our nature as contingent beings, something superior must have survived after death, and that gave hope that was life after death. Believing in God and following his teachings, people would be able to achieve that status. However, such achievement was necessary to prove the existence of a supreme being, such as God, to prove the existence of a great place where the soul survived for eternity, and those beliefs were crucial for humanity but also controversial. 

Those arguments or evidence were useful in both philosophy and religion. They had several advantages, and it was argued that believing in a God was so reasonable that such a being was logically possible and helped reaffirm adherence to a God for people who previously had to believe in a God. Theists used and improved their reasons for believing in a supreme deity. Even faith alone was not a way to prove the truth of beliefs, and religious beliefs were not constantly verified as was science, it was somehow irrelevant as believers and unbelievers did not need those arguments. However, philosophers were looking for evidence and arguments for the existence of God because faith was improvable and would need reasons and proof. Throughout time some philosophers argued that the existence of God was provable, but their arguments were open to criticism. According to S.T. Davis, the proofs failed, the evidence was unpersuasive to skeptics, the proofs were irrelevant to believers, and the “God” of the proofs was not the “God” of the devout. It was a philosophical abstraction, and the proofs contradicted divine transcendence. 

Those arguments were unnecessary for people who believe in God because those who were not aware of those arguments were still believers. A believer did not require a reason for his beliefs, and faith was what was keeping people believing in God, regardless of all the flaws of those arguments. Religious believers were increasing every year, especially in periods when were challenges in life, and humans would continue to believe no matter if arguments were questioning or not the existence of God. Some even claimed to be monotheists while claiming that all conceptions of a single deity were valid, no matter how inconsistent or contradictory they were. We believed that humans were always looking for confirmation from someone else for their actions, and the existence of a God would make that perception easier for everyone. It was imprinted in our beliefs for a long period of time and would be very hard to be changed even if with solid arguments, as though ironically, people would need proof for his nonexistence based on their senses but still believing in an unseeing, untouchable supreme being, called God. 

“They don’t think up questions like that on the basis of what might be true; they concoct the questions on the basis of what might be sensational if it just happened to be true.”
― Walter M. Miller Jr.

Anselm’s ontological argumentPremises: 

Suppose (S) that the Greatest Conceivable Being (GCB) exists in the mind alone and not in reality (GCB1). Then the greatest conceivable being would not be the greatest conceivable being because one could think of a being like (GCB1) but think of the GCB as existing in reality (GCB2) and not just in the mind. So, GCB1 would not be the GCB but GCBb2 would be. Conclusion: Thus, to think of the GCB is to think of the GCB2, i.e. a being that exists in reality and not just in the mind. 

Believers were attracted to that argument because for them to think of God as the greatest imaginable entity, showed that was a being that was greater than only an imaginary entity. So, if we thought about the GCB we would believe that the GCB did indeed exist, not only in your minds. There have been two key points: first, when we spoke of God, whether we asserted God was or wasn’t God, we looked at the entities which could be defined as “a being which nothing greater can be conceived” and secondly when we spoke of God either as believers or as unbelievers, we understood the concept was in our own awareness. If we did not believe that, the being would have to exist outside of the mind and in the world of reality, rather than simply inside the mind and in the realm of imagination, we were not considering the GCB. 

Gaunilon criticized the ontological argument in two ways: first, we had no meaningful understanding of what was meant by “that than greater which cannot be conceived,” and the truth behind the word was totally superior to us. Second, even if we agreed that the notion of the greatest God existed in the understanding, there was no reason to assume that the notion required God to be extra-mental. 

Immanuel Kant questioned Anselm’s ontological argument and showed that while the notion of the Greatest Conceivable Being was valuable, it did not indicate anything on its own. In other words, thinking about a GCB existing in the real world rather than simply in someone’s mind did not establish its reality, and so it was merely a concept with no true basis. According to Kant, “existence” did not function as a predicate, so believing that something existed in the actual world did not imply that it existed. 

The defenders responded to this criticism by stating that the statement applied only to the necessary beings. For that to be true it meant that must be possible, as something impossible for existence would not apply in that case. The example was a Lunicorn, which couldn’t exist not even in imagination, as such a thing was not possible. 

“For I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand. For I believe this: unless I believe, I will not understand.”
― Anselm of Canterbury

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