Anselm of Canterbury's Proof for the Existence of God

I am having a hard time blogging through the this book.  Part of the problem is that I am not a very rational thinker when it comes to theological issues (my wife would argue that I am not very rational for most my debates, but that is a whole other blog post).  This week, I was reading through a portion of Anselm of Canterbury’s Proof for the Existence of God.  I had to read it several times over to really grasp what Anselm was trying to capture in his work entitled Proslogion:

This [definition of God] is indeed so true that it cannot be thought of as not being true. For it is quite possible to think of something whose non-existence cannot be thought of.  This must be greater than something whose non-existence can be thought of. So if this thing (than which no greater thing can be thought) can be thought of as not existing, then, that very thing than which a greater thing cannot be thought is not than that which a greater cannot be thought. This is a contradiction.  So it is true that there exists something than which nothing greater can be thought, that it cannot be thought of as not existing.

I realize, I probably lost you (unless you are Dann, Kenneth, Leann, or ). The truth of the matter is that I have read it multiple times and am barely able to glimpse the concept.  I believe Anselm is suggesting that every idea we can conceive is subject to the reality of the concept. Therefore, since we can not think of anything higher than God, God must exist because we have already have the concept. Reality is always higher than the concept. If we thought it, then some reality must already be in existence.  Hmmm….this hurts my brain.

Challenge: read it over and tell me what Anselm said.


  1. I just love how Anselm says "This is a contradiction" like he's really saying "Duh, isn't it obvious that it doesn't work?"

    What is obvious to one is not always obvious to everyone else :)

  2. @Dann - yes, I noticed that .... after reading it 10-15 times.