St. Augustine's Argument For The Existence Of God

St. Augustine's argument for the existence of God. A critique pointing out it's strengths, and it's weaknesses.

In order to prove anything, we must first start with a foundation that is accepted as truth. Augustine begins with the platform that we exist. We can not argue this because if we do it is proving ourselves wrong. The mere fact that we can argue is a proof of our existence. Next he asks us if we are alive. We must also agree to this because in order to agree or to not agree we must be alive. Now he asks us if we understand these two steps to be true. If we do, then he has proven his next step, we have reason. For without reason, we could not understand these two basic concepts.

He then puts all of existence in a hierarchy. The lowest form of existence is illustrated by a rock. It exists, and this is all it does. It has no concept of life, or even of it's own existence. One step up on Augustine's hierarchy is a tree. It is both alive, and it exists. It does not have understanding, nor does it have mobility. A dog is next on his list. A dog exists, lives, and is sensate. It can feel, taste, smell, hear, and touch. It has an understanding of life, and of survival. It has what he calls an inner animal sense. It can chose whether or not to eat a certain item, it can move freely, and respond freely, where as nothing below a dog in the hierarchy can do any of that. Still higher than the dog, is the human, we exists, have life, are sensate, and have one thing that all the others lack, one things that sets us apart from all the others, we have reason. We are capable of understanding, and choosing. It alone gives us more power than any other being on this earth.

This is where Augustine takes a jump. The pupil must now accept that if he can prove there is something greater than human reason, that it must be God. If, and only if the pupil accepts can the argument continue. If the pupil accepts, Augustine will point out the mathematical truth that seven plus three equals ten. He argues that this is true, whether or not we exist. It is not ten because we want it to be, because it should be, because it's supposed to be, because it could be, because it might be, it is because it is. And that fact alone demonstrates that there is something out there, some truth, which is greater than human reason. It is true, not because we, as humans, say it is, but because it is a truth that exists in this world and that truth must come from somewhere. Since this truth is greater than human reason, and does not depend on us, the greatest being in the hierarchy, to be true, then there must be a God.



I think that this proof is very rational, and it makes a lot of sense. One thing I do not like about this proof is that it devalues God to a mathematical equation. There is also lots of room for people to argue that just because there is mathematical truth, there does not mean that there is a God. I can also understand how some people would have trouble understanding that God is math. If this proof is taken literally, then it is dependent much on faith to show that God is the truth of mathematics. I think that in order for a person to believe this argument, they already need to have some basis of a belief in God as a perfect being, otherwise there is a misconception that God is merely the truth of mathematics. For those who already have faith, this is a good proof to back up that faith.

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