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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does the God of the Bible Exist?

Don Stewart :: What Is the Ontological Argument for God's Existence?

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What Is the Ontological Argument for God’s Existence? (The Argument from Being)

Does the God of the Bible Exist? – Question 10

The Ontological argument is the argument from “being.” Historically this is last argument that has been given to account for God’s existence. It is based upon the idea of a perfect being. It can be summarized as follows.

God Is the Highest Being Humans Can Conceive Of

The ontological argument is usually given in two steps. First, we recognize that the idea of God is the highest thing that a human being can conceive or think of. It has been argued that humanity’s conception of a perfect being must be based upon some reality. Why do humans think about an all-powerful being?

Therefore God Must Exist in Reality as Well as in the Mind

Step two consists of facing the question, “Why would humankind conceive of such a perfect being if such a being did not exist?” The answer given is that, “We would not.” Therefore, God must exist. Otherwise, we would not have thoughts of such a perfect being.

Weaknesses with the Ontological Argument

Although this argument has been given in various forms throughout history, it is not very convincing for a number of reasons.

1. Something Does Not Exist Because We Can Imagine It

Merely because humanity can conceive of a perfect being does not guarantee the existence of such a being. Although it may seem logical to some, there has to some evidence to back it up. There has to be more than merely the idea of a perfect being for that being to exist.

2. This Shows Our Need for God’s Existence, Not the Fact of His Existence

There is something else. The fact that we have a need for a perfect being to exist does not mean that He exists in reality. While humanity may have this need, this does not mean that the need has been met.

Thus, the ontological argument only proves that humans have a need for God and have thought up the idea of a supreme being. His existence, however, cannot be assumed or proven merely because we can conceive that such a being exists. There has to be some evidence to back up what we are thinking about.

Summary – Question 10
What Is the Ontological Argument for God’s Existence? (The Argument from Being)

The ontological argument is a difficult argument to follow. We will try to simplify it. Basically it says that God is the highest being which humans can imagine or conceive of. Since we can imagine this perfect being which does exist in our minds, he must exist in reality. If not, we would not imagine this type of being actually exists. Indeed, why would we conceive of such a perfect being if there was no such personage?

The obvious problem with this argument is that things do not merely exist because we can imagine them. We can imagine an unlimited number of things which do not really exist. There has to be something more than our mere imagination for such a being to exist.

The ontological argument shows us the need for God to exist but not the reality of his existence. More evidence is needed to demonstrate that this desire is not merely wishful thinking on our behalf.

Therefore, the ontological argument, by itself, proves nothing.

What Is the Biological Argument for God's Existence? ← Prior Section
What Should We Conclude about the Traditional Arguments for God's Existence? Next Section →
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