January 15, 2009
St. Augustine and Avicenna
St Augustine and Avicenna both believe in the existence of the one true eternal God. They both believe that God is the creator of all things and that He is greater than all of His creation. Both Augustine and Avicenna also see God as an unchanging and incorruptible entity. However, in spite of all of their similarities, Avicenna and Augustine differ significantly in their philosophies of the existence of God.
St. Augustine believes that God is that which is above and beyond human reason. He presents his argument with a hierarchy of everything that exists and whether or not these things that exist possess life and reason. Augustine uses the example of a rock which exists but does not have life and therefore cannot possess reason, a plant which exists and has life but does not possess reason, and human beings that exist, have life, and possess reason. In Augustine’s hierarchy he points out that there must be a being that exists, has life, and possesses reason on a higher level than a human level of reason. Augustine concludes that that which is above the level of all human reason is God.
St Augustine uses the unchanging law of numbers as an analogy of the unchanging virtues of truth to prove that there are things that even the greatest of human minds cannot fully manipulate or understand. Once he establishes that numbers and truth are unchanging and beyond human manipulation and indisputably exist he points out that there must be an existence beyond the existence of the unchanging laws of numbers and truth. Therefore if reason is comparable to the unchanging qualities of numbers and nobility to the incorruptible virtues of truth then that which are above the laws of numbers (reason) and that which is above the virtues of truth (nobility) must be God.
In contrast to Augustine’s hierarchy of things on earth eventually proving God’s existence, Avicenna does not believe that the...