An Argument in Two Stages -
Note: Two Modes of Existence -
- Potential: To be conceivable (i.e., to have the idea of X)
- Actual: For the conceivable X to exist
First Argument: To actually exist is greater than to only potentially exist.
- P1. If we have the idea 'God' ("that-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-conceived"), then the concept exists in our understanding.
- P2. We have the idea 'God' (i.e., we understand the word 'God' when used).
- C1. Therefore, the idea 'God' exists in our understanding.
- P3. If 'God' exists in our understanding alone, then we can conceive of a Being greater than 'God'.
Note: Existence is greater than non-existence.
- P4. We cannot conceive of a Being greater than 'God' (by definition).
- C2. Therefore, 'God' cannot exist in our understanding alone.
- C3. Therefore, 'God' must exist both in our understanding and in reality.
Second Argument: God is a necessary being.
Note: Two more modes of being -
- Contingent: any actually existing object which could fail to exist, or be different than it is.
- Necessary: any actually existing object which could not fail to eixst, or be different than it is.
- P1. We can conceive of something existing necessarily or contingently, (but not both).
- P2. Anything which exists necessarily is greater than anything which exists contingently (i.e., it is possible for it not to exist).
- P3. By definition (i.e., the greatest conceivable being), God is a necessary entity.
- C1. Therefore, if 'God' is conceived to be a contingent entity, 'God' is not God.
- P3. It is absurd (i.e., a contradiction) to say that 'God' is not God.
- C2. Therefore, it must be the case that we cannot conceive of 'God' existing contingently (or 'God' must exist necessarily).