Classical Arguments for the Existence of God – Part 1

Throughout history, many people have tried to logically prove that God exists.  Some people think this task is impossible.  I’ve heard the claim, “If you can prove God exists, then no faith is needed.”  Although that seems like a good response, we need to remember that, “Even the demons believe [that God exists] and shudder…” (James 2:19).  So, even if we could prove that God exists, there is still a level of faith required to have a relationship with Him.

So, in an effort to understand where our ancestors have come from, I want to delve into each of the classical arguments for the existence of God.  This is not an exhaustive study, by any means, but simply a cursory look at how people have concluded that their faith is rational.  We will start today with my personal favorite, the Ontological argument.

First off, a little definition: “ontological” comes from the word “ontology” which is the philosophical study of existence or being.  There are a lot of good ontological questions out there:

  • How do you know what exists?
  • How do you determine between abstract and concrete objects?  Do they both exist?
  • Can human beings know everything that exists, or are we limited?  If so, to what extent?
As you can see, it can get pretty nerdy, but that’s what I like about it.  Anyway, back to God…
The Ontological argument goes something like this:
  1. Define God as the Maximally Perfect Being – He must be perfect in all ways.  He is the greatest being that can be imagined.
  2. Existence is better than non-existence.  (Wouldn’t you rather have a real $100 than imaginary?)
  3. Since God must be perfect, and existence is better than non-existence, God must exist, by definition. 
I like the argument because of its elegance.  Now, many people have issues with this argument.  What problems can you find?  Do you like this argument, or not?  What’s your favorite argument for (or against) the existence of God?
We’ll keep going through these classical arguments in the coming days.  Thanks for reading!
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