In my history of Philosophy class this year we studied St. Anselm who has the craziest argument for the proof of God. Before I explain it to you I must preface it by saying that it doesn't specifically prove the Judeo-Christian God Yahweh, although the more you dig into the argument the more it does look like Yahweh. Also, in Anselm's version he refers to God as "The being that than which non greater can be conceived" for times sake and because I'm lazy we will be referring to him as the "Greatest Conceivable Being" or GCB. The argument consists of nine premises which I will lay out, anything said in brackets is my attempt to explain some of the more difficult premises. Here we go.
1) Things can exist in 2 ways: in the mind, and in reality (this actually turns into 4 possible ways to exist: In the mind and in reality, in the mind and not in reality, not in the mind and in reality, not in the mind and not in reality [this last one sounds weird, but think of it like this, a bowing 747 jet did not exist in the mind or in reality 1000 years ago, but it is still a thing which exists] this bracket is not actually important for the initial argument, I just think it's interesting.)
2)The GCB (Greatest Conceivable Being) can possibly exist in reality (in that it is not a completely absurd concept like a square circle.)
3) The GCB exists in the mind (we can think of it)
4) Anything that exists in the mind and possibly in reality might be greater than it is (in that, Superman, as he exists in my mind is pretty awesome. But how much greater would he be if he were real!)
5) The GCB only exists in the mind (this is the atheists summation)
6) The GCB was possibly greater than it is (this is based on premise 2 and premise 4)
7) The Greatest Conceivable Being is a being that than which a greater being is conceivable (a GCB that exists only in the mind, is by definition not the greatest CONCEIVABLE being, because to exist in reality is a conceivably greater quality than to exist in the mind only.)
8) It is false that the GCB exists only in the mind
9) thus, the GCB exists in both the mind AND in reality.
So there you have it. I've run it over several times, trying to find the fault in the argument, because although I believe in God, this just seems to easy or ridiculous, in that if we can think of the GCB he must exist. As of yet however, all of my attempts have been thwarted by logic. Most people will attack the argument based on premise 2, saying the GCB could not possibly exist in reality, however their argument usually falls through as most people don't like to deny the possibility of God, even if they don't believe in God.
So what do you think? Is this argument sound or is it simply the drabble of some old Catholic Saint? give reasons for your acceptance or objections.
I love Philosophy.