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Critical Writing Assignment: St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument 

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Katanna Cornelious PHI 110 20 May 2015 Critical Writing Assignment: St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument In this paper the question of the existence of God from the argument of Anselm will be discussed. The relationship between incarnation and atonement play factors in explaining God’s existence. The focus point will be on Anselm’s idea of satisfaction and his Ontological argument. Let us now focus on the Philosopher Anselm as a person. Born in 1033v near Aosta at twenty-three Anselm left his home. He then stumbled upon Normandy, after traveling through Burgundy and France. A famous school in Normandy caught his attention. Benedictine abbey at Bec was under the leadership of Lanfranc. (Mueller) This was an awesome scholar and teacher who had an abundant reputation.

This school became an important center for learning. After nineteen year Anselm was elected to run this school and under his leadership grew its reputation. As a results, Anselm wrote many “philosophy and theology in addition to his teaching, administrative duties, and extensive correspondence as an advisor and counselloor to rulers and nobles all over Europe and beyond.” (Mueller) “Faith seeking understanding” is Anselm’s motto. He takes this meaning as “an active love of God seeking a deeper knowledge of God.” The argument of the Proslogion or “ontological argument” from Anselm states: “a single argument that needed nothing but itself alone for proof, that would by itself be enough to show that God really exists; that he is the supreme good, who depends on nothing else, but on whom all things depend for their being and for their well-being; and whatever we believe about the divine nature.”( St. Anselm)

The message goes on to explain the meaning of this phrase: “The proper way to state Anselm’s argument is a matter of dispute, and any detailed statement of the argument will beg interpretative questions. But on a fairly neutral or consensus reading of the argument (which I shall go on to reject), Anselm’s argument goes like this. God is “that than which nothing greater can be thought”; in other words, he is a being so great, so full of metaphysical oomph, that one cannot so much as conceive of a being who would be greater than God. (Pojman/Rea) The Psalmist, however, tells us that “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). Is it possible to convince the fool that he is wrong? It is. All we need is the characterization of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought.” The fool does at least understand that definition. But whatever is understood exists in the understanding, just as the plan of a painting he has yet to execute already exists in the understanding of the painter. So that than which nothing greater can be thought exists in the understanding. But if it exists in the understanding, it must also exist in reality.

For it is greater to exist in reality than to exist merely in the understanding. Therefore, if that than which nothing greater can be thought existed only in the understanding, it would be possible to think of something greater than it (namely, that same being existing in reality as well). (Pojman/Rea) It follows, then, that if that than which nothing greater can be thought existed only in the understanding, it would not be that than which nothing greater can be thought; and that, obviously, is a contradiction. So that than which nothing greater can be thought must exist in reality, not merely in the understanding.” In order to fully understand what Anselm means by the existence of God we have to see the relationship between atonement and incarnation. In these two words the fall under Reason, Faith and Tradition: Exploration of Catholic Theology. This was a book written by Martin C. Albl using Anselm Academics. Incarnation is the belief that the second person of the Trinity became human as Jesus of Nazareth. The Trinity is a traditional Christian belief that God is three persons in one divine nature; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Although the Trinity is not expressed in the Bible, it has been clearly understood. First John Chapter five verse eight reads: So there are three witnesses in heaven: the Father, the word and the Holy Spirit and these three are one; and there are three witnesses on earth: the spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three agree [are in unison; their testimony coincides]. (Amplified Bible) This has been broken down to mean the Father, God the word and the Holy Spirit which holds the Truth.

It has been controversy of rather God, a divine spirit can even be said to bear a child but he did. Second John verse three reads “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”(John 2:3) This verse prove that God has a Son. Jesus was born of an earthly mother Mary, but was not conceived by sperm as humans are. In fact Mary was a virgin. Mary was favored by God. Luke Chapter one verse twenty-eight reads: “And he came to her and said Hail O favored one! The Lord is with you” The angel Gabriel came to her when she was unmarried as well as a virgin. He prophesized that she will carry the son of God and will name Him Jesus. She told Gabriel that she wasn’t married. The angel then said “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over-shadow you: and so the holy Thing which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God” Mary knew what God was asking of her and immediately became willing to do. Even though Jesus was not his biological son Joseph, who is Mary’s husband, still raised and took care of the Son of God.

Jesus is the Son of God. “He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominations or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians chapter one verse fifteen through seventeen.) Jesus was the perfect example of how humans can live their lives and still depend and trust God. He was accused, He was talked about but he still has faith. Matthew twenty-seven verse states “When the morning was come, all the chief priest and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.” He was then crucified. He died for our sins. He died so that we may communicate between earth and God. “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews Chapter one verse one and two.)

Atonement is the belief that Jesus’ death in some way “made up for” or “paid for” the sins of all humanity. The Christian tradition has proposed different models of exactly how Jesus’ death accomplished this atonement. In the bible’s dictionary atonement is defined as the bringing together again or the restoring of right relations between God and man after man’s sin has offended God. In the Old Testament, atonement was made to God by means of sacrifices, offerings, prayers and repentance. (Ex. 30:10) On the Day of Atonement the high priest performed a ceremonial rite to cleanse the people from their sins. The New Testament uses the word reconciliation instead of atonement (Heb. 2:7), but the atonement is one of the chief doctrines of the church. According to Anselm sin is a violation against justice. Anselm feels that if you sin, rather that be a lie or cheating, the order of the universe is somehow become out of balanced. He believes something positive has to be done to restore that balance. If one was to kill a person and get away with the murder or the cleanup and never gets in front of a jury they are to turn themselves in. Even though the prison time will never compensate the hurt of the family of the deceased at least the balance is somewhat restored. The relationship between incarnation and atonement is pretty simple. Since we are humans and we are born in sin we need a way to communicate with someone who we can ask for forgiveness.

Jesus was that person. Since Jesus knew how it was first hand to be human in a world of sin and temptation He could relate in a way to what we are going through. When he died and was risen he earn the seat right next to God. (First Peter chapter three twenty-one and twenty-two states “Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.” This was the incarnation. This is what made him apart of the Trinity. He pave the way so that we could provide atonement of our sins. Jesus allowed us the opportunity to be able to go through Him and communicate to God. References Albl, M. C. (2009). Reason, Faith, and Tradition: Explorations in Catholic Theology. Winona: Anselm Academic. Mueller, J. (2007, 2011). Theological Foundations. Winona: Christian Brothers. The Amplified Bible The Holy Bible Williams, Thomas, ‘Saint Anselm’, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = . Pojman/Rea, Solomon, Kierkegaard. Encountering The Real:Faith and Philosophical Enquiry. 2012 

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