Man has always been fascinated about everything around him. Since time immemorial he has always been intrigued by the complexities of nature and the vastness of the universe. The same is evident if we examine the history of philosophy. The Pre-Socratics were interested with the fundamental element of the entire universe. Socrates and Plato were concerned about the problem of morality. But even before them man has been trying to decipher the riddles of nature. One of these riddles of nature that perplexed man is the question on God’s existence.
Throughout history man has always been in search for the answer to the query ‘does God exist? ’ If God exists how then can we prove his existence? One of the famous philosophers who affirmed God’s existence was St. Anselm who was a Benedictine Monk, and a former Archbishop of Canterbury (David Hugh Farmer, p. 1). He attempted to prove that God exists through the following argument.
Premise 1: God is greatest possible being one whom nothing greater can be conceived. Premise 2: If God does not exist in reality then a greater being can be conceived, one that exists both as a concept and in reality. Premise 3: This being would be greater than God thus contradicting Premise 1. Conclusion: Therefore, God is not just a concept and must exist in reality. The Ontological Argument is St. Anselm’s solution to the problem of God’s existence. St. Anselm thought that the Ontological Argument was a simple argument that in itself sufficed to prove God’s existence.
St. Anselm argued that the very concept of God entails its existence as a necessary consequence. If God is indeed that greatest being of which He has no equal then it is necessary that He must have the attribute of existence. If He does not exist then He is not the greatest being because a greater being can be conceived, one that both exist in concept and in reality. This means that for God to be the greatest being He must exist not just in the mind but also in reality. Thus God exists. St. Thomas Aquinas was another famous philosopher who attempted to prove God’s existence.
He used the following argument: Premise 1: The World exists. Premise 2: Everything that exists must have a creator. Premise 3: This cannot go on ad infinitum. There must be a being that exists but is not itself created. Conclusion: God exists. (Paul Newall, p. 4) The Cosmological Argument was advanced by St. Thomas Aquinas who was inspired by Aristotle’s philosophy. In essence it says that there are only two kinds of being: one that is a dependent being and one that is a self-existing being.
A dependent being is one that owes is existence to another being while a self existing being is one that does not owe its existence to any other being. All things that exist here in this word have temporal existence. But it is not possible for every living being to be dependent for its existence to another. There must be one Being which is not dependent on another’s existence. That could only be God. Conclusion/Analysis I believe that man’s search for proof of God’s existence is a strong manifestation of man’s search for the meaning of his existence.
We all want to feel special in our own way. God’s existence will prove that we are not just a product of millions of years of evolution but as God’s creation we have a special mission or purpose in life. Since the Teleological and Cosmological Arguments were formulated by finite and imperfect beings, they have their limitations. The Teleological Argument is flawed primarily because it does not actually prove God’s existence but it merely defines the characteristics of a Supreme Being. It merely states that one of the qualities of God is his existence.
By saying that God exists because existence is an essential attribute of perfection is like going around in circles. The Cosmological Argument of Aquinas is also flawed in the sense that if we rely on the existence of our world now as proof of God’s existence then how come the universe is so imperfect. How is it possible that something created by a perfect being could be so imperfect? Why are their famine, drought, poverty, pollution, global warming, flood, and tornado which have caused not only the destruction of property but have also caused the death of thousands if not millions of human life?
These arguments do not suffice to prove God’s existence. Perhaps, no argument can suffice to prove God’s existence. Despite this limitation, I however feel that He exists. My heart and my mind tell me that he exists and that he will constantly guide me in everything that I do. I submit to Aquinas in saying that there are two paths to knowing God. One is through Reason and the other is through Faith. Through Reason we can arrive at understanding of God but Faith is the surest way of knowing Him.