Explaining the ontological argument

Explain the ontological argument
The ontological argument states that God is the greatest possible being; we as humans could never
comprehend anything greater, more perfect or more powerful than God. It is a priori argument as it
does not rely on solid evidence or experience, rather it relies on logic and reasoning to come to a
This argument comes from Anselm’s philosophical premise that because we are able to imagine God
and his attributes with such a clear understanding, he must exist. If God exists only in the mind, then
he is not the greatest possible being.
Guanilo scrutinized this argument as just because we imagine something great to exist does not
mean it does. If someone were to imagine a perfect island that met every one of that person’s ideals
it does not mean that island exists within our universe. Everyone has a different definition of what
the ‘perfect’ island would be like just as everyone has a slightly different idea of what the perfect
God would be like. How do we know whose idea of God is the true version? Humans have the gift of
imagination, it does not mean what they imagine is real.
At a closer look it can be considered a mistake to compare something as almighty and divine as a
God to something as simple and common as an island. This is mainly because an island depends on
things to exist such as weather conditions and tidal shifts. God does not depend on things for his
existence as he is the prime creator.
If you think of God, you must next accept him and his existence. Since we can’t imagine anything
greater or more perfect than a God, him not existing is unfathomable.
Descartes presents further arguments to support God’s existence. He argued that God was the most
perfect being as he possesses all the best attributes that make a being perfect such as omnipotence,
omniscience, compassion and omnibenevolence. If he weren’t to possess these attributes, he could
not be considered a perfect being nor a God. A famous quote of Descartes is ‘I think therefore I am’,
this means that the fact he can conceive such a great being means his existence is inevitable.
An analogy for this argument is the idea of a triangle. We can imagine a triangle in our minds, we
understand it has three sides and 3 angles. For something to exist in the mind it must have a set of
criteria that can be understood. Just as we cannot think about a triangle without thinking of its sides,
we cannot think of God without thinking of his attributes. However, it is possibly a mistake to
compare a triangle, of which we know exists and have evidence of its existence, to something like a
God of which no one can say for sure exits.
Kant was a Prussian philosopher that objected to Anselm and Descartes arguments. It was his belief
that the idea of God does not equal the reality of God. ‘God exits’ is a synthetic statement and does
not add to the argument nor describe anything about the nature of an object or being. It is false to
describe existence as perfection as we experience so many flaws within our own existence and are
ourselves imperfect beings.
A person cannot be persuaded by the argument ‘it exists’ as existence does not describe nature.
Belief that something exits does not mean that something exists, regardless of personal conviction
to its existence.
A final argument comes from philosopher Norman Malcom. He rejected Anselm’s argument for
God’s existence, instead siding with Guanilo and his island analogy. It is false to assume that
existence is perfection or that existence provides greatness.
Malcom states that in order for God to be the great being Descartes and Anselm described him as;
his existence must be necessary. If it were unnecessary for God to exist, then he could not be
considered the greatest being. God’s necessity come from all other thing depending on him; for God
to be the greatest, he must be independent of all other things.
For God to be the greatest being he must have unlimited power, if he did not have unlimited power,
he would be lesser than a being that did not have limitations. If God were inferior, he would not be a
God therefor he must have unlimited power that makes his existence necessary.
To conclude, the ontological argument for God is based entirely upon the concept of thought and
what we as people believe to be desirable attributes for a supposed God. It is logical to assume that
there is a superior being in control of the universe despite the arguments against it simply because
we have no evidence to disprove it.