Aquinas’ and Anselm’s Arguments for Existence of God

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The question of the existence of God has puzzled people since the beginning of time. There are two ways we learned in class about how people get to their answer. First through religion which does not have any proof of God’s existence but says that we should have faith that a being like God must exist to explain the creation of everything on earth. The second way is through logic; this is the way philosophist has argued for the existence of a being like God. They argue that for a being like God to exist he must have several core attributes.

The core attributes are omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (all-knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere), Eternal (time), Infinite (space), necessary, and perfect and by breaking down this core attributes logically they find arguments to support or oppose the existence of god. In this essay, we discuss the three arguments philosophers use to argue the existence of god and the objections presented in each argument. The two arguments are the ontological argument, cosmological argument.

The ontological argument is created by an 11th-century French monk Saint Anselm of Canterbury. He created an argument of the existence of God based on what he understood to be the nature of God being. In his argument god is the best possible being we can imagine. He says there are two ways for anything can exist. They could exist in only our mind example is the Easter bunny, and Santa this is imaginative beings that no one has ever seen, but everyone in society believes they exist.

The other way anything could exist is in our mind and reality. Beings that exist in reality are better than beings that only exist in our imagination. If God existed only in our imagination, he would not be the most significant being we can think of because god, in reality, would always be better, so therefore God must exist in reality. The argument runs into criticism because it can be used to prove whatever you most desire but wouldn’t make it real. An example of this is to imagine a car that could drive itself and also fly at the same time.

However, because you can imagine this car does not make this car real. Anselm responds to this criticism saying that his argument only works for necessary beings who is God. His argument creates the fallacy known as begging the question. According to the Oxford companion to philosophy fallacy is defined as “a form of argument with some invalid instances. Fallacy is plainest when the argument, or some instance of the form (called a counter-example), combines true premises with an untrue conclusion.”(p.228)

By adding the idea of a “necessary being” to his definition of god. Anselm uses god existence as a part of the definition of god. The second argument of the existence of God is the cosmological argument. This was created by Italian theologian and philosopher St Thomas Aquinas. He used the known facts about the universe to create his argument of god’s existence. Aquinas writes about four ways to prove God exist in the “Summa theologica.” The first was the argument of motion with this argument Aquinas says we live in a world where everything is in motion, and movers cause movement. Everything that moves must have been set into motion by the prime mover who is God.

He wanted to trace the cause of the movement he saw in the world to the beginning. He figured the universe must be finite in time because there must be a time where nothing was in motion, and there must have to be a static being that started the motion in the first place. The second argument by Aquinas for the existence of God was the argument from causation (the first cause). He uses this argument to explain cause and effect that appears in the universe. He believes that somethings in the universe are caused, and anything that’s caused has to be caused by something else since nothing can cause itself.

There can’t be an infinite regression of causes, so, therefore, there must be a first causer itself uncaused, and that is God. The first mover must be real and must not be an effect of a previous cause. His third argument was the argument from contingency. Everything has a beginning and an end. With this argument, Aquinas says suppose everything was contingent that would mean everything has a finite past and if so a state of nothingness would’ve obtained nothing “Ex nihilo, nihil fit” (from nothing, nothing comes). So this means not everything in the universe is contingent there must be a necessary object, and this important object is God. The fourth is the argument from degrees.

Aquinas uses this argument to build on the idea that we need a measuring stick in other to understand the value of things. We gage the size of things in terms of other things. He believes that there has to be an anchor to our value concept. Something that defined the value of everything else by being perfect and this thing is God. The criticism for Aquinas’s argument states that although he does an excellent job of proving the existence of god it falls short because God is exempt from the rules of causality and motion. Why can’t anything else be exempt from this rules?

In conclusion, Aquinas and Anselm proved great arguments to prove the existence of God. To create these arguments they used common questions about the universe to logically prove that even though there is no physical proof of God’s existence, there has to be a reason for the events happening around us. Life is too complicated to believe that everything happens randomly.


  1. Honderich, Ted. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2005.
  2. Tallman, Ruth. “Aquinas and the Cosmological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #10.” YouTube, PBS Digital Studios, 11 Apr. 2016, youtu.be/TgisehuGOyY.
  3. Tallman, Ruth. “Anselm and the Ontological Arguments: Crash Course Philosophy #9.” YouTube, PBS Digital Studios, 11 Apr. 2016, youtu.be/TgisehuGOyY.

Cite this paper

Aquinas’ and Anselm’s Arguments for Existence of God. (2021, May 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/aquinas-and-anselms-arguments-for-existence-of-god/



How can we know the existence of God Anselm and Aquinas?
Anselm argued that we can know the existence of God through reason alone, using his famous ontological argument. Aquinas, on the other hand, believed that we can know the existence of God through both reason and observation of the natural world, using his five ways argument.
What are the 3 main arguments for the existence of God?
The three main arguments for the existence of God are the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, and the teleological argument.
What are the 4 arguments for the existence of God?
The first argument for the existence of God is the ontological argument. This argument is based on the idea that God is a perfect being and, as such, must exist. The second argument is the cosmological argument. This argument states that the universe must have had a cause, and that cause is God. The third argument is the teleological argument. This argument states that the universe is too complex and orderly to have arisen by chance, and that this points to the existence of an intelligent creator. The fourth and final argument is the moral argument. This argument states that there must be a moral lawgiver in order for there to be objective morality, and that this lawgiver is God.
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