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Anselm responds to the fool

“God is that, than which nothing greater can be conceived.” ~ Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109).

Do you think that there is a creature on earth that exist but have not been discovered or imagined by humanity? To you, does this creature exist or not? If yes, what does existence and reality mean? If No, can you prove the non-existence of this creature?

On the contrary, is there a creature that exist in the intelligence but does not exist in reality? If yes, what makes a creature real? If No, is existence independently outside intelligence and reality? Which is greater: the one in the intelligence, reality alone or both? If a possible creature exists but have not come to intelligence or discovery in reality, isn’t that possible also that a creature that exist in the intelligence can also exist in reality? These are just some few questions that Anselm’s ontological argument revolves around. But that’s not Anselm’s answer to the fool. Anselm asserts that existence must be both in the intelligence and reality. What exist in reality is more greater or perfect than that which exist in the intelligence alone.

To the fool who, “says in his heart that there is no God” (Psalm 14: 1) has no argument according to Anselm. The fool acknowledges the existence of this God in his intelligence yet denies the reality of this God. He’s able to deny the existence of this God because He has it in his intelligence who this God is. And if the fool acknowledges this great God in his intelligence, it then becomes stupid or absurd to deny such a “great” being in reality. In this Anselm challenges the fool that conception of a great God in the intelligence must exist in reality otherwise this being God, is not great as it’s in the intelligence of the fool else the fool lacks understanding and hence don’t understand what is called “God” in his intelligence. And if he fails to understand what this being “God” is, then he has no argument to deny the existence of this being. And if he acknowledges the “greatest” association of the name God, then for something to be great, it must both exist in the mind and reality. Hence God is real according to Anselm. He’s the maximum perfection of which nothing greater else than Him can be conceived. If one can imagine something greater or perfect than God, then that person has defied the concept of an existing God. If such a conception cannot be achieved, then the maximum perfection proves His existence in reality.

Anselm does not challenge the fool to have faith just faith in this God. He calls him to faith, meditation, contemplation and logic-observation. The fool must leave his preoccupations, unbelief and give time to himself to reflect and seek this God. Anselm challenges the fool and calls him into faith-logical-search for God. As it is written “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29, 13). The fool can never find God as long as there is unbelief in his heart.


About Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi

The Life of Christ lives in me


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