Saint Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm (1033-1109) was a Benedictine monk, Christian philosopher, and scholar who is recognized for many intellectual accomplishments, including his application of reason in exploring the mysteries of faith and for his definition of theology as “faith seeking understanding.”
Anselm was a Christian theologian. As such, he accepted the Bible as the infallible Word of God.
From this he concluded that God is one in essence and three in persons—the Trinity. But Anselm believed that the existence and nature of this one God (though not his triunity) could be demonstrated rationally apart from supernatural revelation. Contrary to popular understanding,
Anselm had many arguments for God’s existence. He elaborated many forms of the cosmological argument before he ever devised the ontological argument.
Anselm’s cosmological type arguments.
Anselm argued from goodness to God:
- Good things exist.
- The cause of this goodness is either one or many.
- But it can’t be many, for then there would be no way to compare their goodness, for all things would be equally good. But some things are better than others.
- Therefore, one Supreme Good (God) causes the goodness in all good things.
Anselm argued from perfection to God, an argument C. S. Lewis emulated in Mere Christianity:
- Some beings are more nearly perfect than are others.
- But things cannot be more or less perfect unless there is a wholly perfect to which they can be compared.
- Therefore, there must be a Most Perfect Being (God).
Anselm argued from being to God:
- Something exists
- Whatever exists, exists either through nothing or through something.
- But nothing cannot cause something; only something can cause something.
- And this something is either one or many.
- If many, they are either mutually dependent or all dependent on one for their existence.
- They cannot be mutually dependent for their existence, for something cannot exist through a being on which it confers existence.
- Therefore, there must be one being through which all other beings exist.
- This one being must exist through itself, since everything else exists through it.
- And whatever exists through itself, exists in the highest degree of all.
- Therefore, there exists a supremely perfect Being that exists in the highest degree of all.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Norman Geisler in Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.