Faith Seeking Understanding - St. Anselm
The most striking theme in Anselm's Proslogion, or faith seeking understanding, is the idea that in order to prove God's existence one must first have faith in Him, and only then will one be able to truly understand and appreciate God's existence. Anselm argues for this eloquently, "I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, that unless I believed, I should not understand" (Ch.1 Proslogion). Let us now investigate what Anselm means by this, what led him to his line of reasoning, why we should believe him that this is the right way of going about proving God's existence, and finally, raise some serious objections against his thesis and any possible responses that can be given to them.
One will better understand the thesis by first examining the factors that led up to it. Anselm begins by arguing that human beings cannot properly be said to foster the image of God due to their sins. In order to reach a proper understanding of God one must undergo the restoration of the intellect. The purpose of human life, Anselm believes, is to see, love, and understand God. Anselm puts it this way, "Lord, I acknowledge and I thank thee that thou hast created me in this thine image, in order that I may be mindful of thee, may conceive of thee, and love thee
" (Ch. 1 Proslogion). When reading the beginning passages of Proslogion one is almost awe struck by the passions and thoughts tormenting Anselms mind. Here is a philosopher, a man, seeking the highest purpose and understanding to his life. Anselm obviously has the image of God in his mind, and believes in it, and now is ready to understand it through reason. Rather than allowing reason to guide one to the truths about the world before embracing an idea on mere faith, Anselm does the exact opposite. Anselm has complete faith in God's existence and then goes about examining a rational argument for it....
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