The ontological argument

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Dialogue Education


for the existence of God


There are a number of ways of trying to prove that God exists. One can:

  1. Argue from the design in the world (The DESIGN ARGUMENT)

  2. Argue from the existence of an absolute standard of morality or from the existence of our conscience (The MORAL ARGUMENT)

  3. Argue from existence of the world based on the first cause argument or the dependency of the world on God (The COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT)

  4. Argue from human experience of God (The ARGUMENT FROM RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE)

All these arguments are important and significant but they share one thing in common ‑ their starting points are something we experience. They are A POSTERIORI ARGUMENTS in that they are based on experience as a starting point. The arguments may or may not succeed, but at least it would make sense with all of them to deny the existence of God, to say that perhaps God does not exist. After all, it is a possibility that Tony Blair may not exist even though he does ‑ it is not necessary that Tony Blair exists. He might not have done.

The Ontological argument is totally different from any of the other arguments on several grounds:

  1. It does not start from experience as a starting point,

  2. It claims to arrive at the existence of God by analyzing the idea of God and this idea does not depend on experience ‑ it is therefore an A PRIORI ARGUMENT.

  3. If the argument succeeds, then the existence of God is logically necessary and, as a matter of logic, it simply does not make sense to doubt that God exists.

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