[A]ll other goods are good through another being than that which they themselves are, and this being alone is good through itself. Hence, this alone is supremely good, which is alone good through itself. For it is supreme, in that it so surpasses other beings, that it is neither equalled nor excelled. But that which is supremely good is also supremely great. There is, therefore, some one being which is supremely good, and supremely great, that is, the highest of all existing beings.17This argument has been reworded, reformatted, and argued by multiple writers since Anselm penned it. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy lists such writers as “St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Gassendi, Spinoza, Malebranche, Locke, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, … Charles Hartshorne, Etienne Gilson, Maurice Blondel, Martin Heidegger, Karl Barth, Norman Malcolm, and Alvin Plantinga.”18 Unfortunately, though that is an impressive list of writers, it is not considered a very good argument by many apologists today. Many think of the ontological argument as defining God into existence. And, though that is a fair critique, others, most notably Alvin Plantinga, have revived the argument with some success. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online) has an entire article devoted to this argument that often references Plantinga’s version.19 It is the position of this paper that apologists have too long ignored this argument, which in its own way also reflects the ideas expressed in Romans 1. All people actually know intuitively that God exists and this argument can move other arguments into the realm of possibility. It can establish the idea that belief in God is reasonable, because after all it is possible that there is a “Best Being” (God), to use the term “good” that Anselm uses, and if it is possible that such a being exists, then it is at least reasonable that it be so. This argument can be used as a stepping stone. If one can get a skeptic to at least admit that it is possible for such a being to exist, then one can move on to other arguments like the cosmological arguments, which were very popular for the next apologist this paper will discuss.
It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. … It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.26This is just the "first way" and each of the other arguments are just as powerful. They each deal with different aspects of the universe, so they could be taken together as all cosmological arguments. The "second way" deals with efficient causes (again using Aristotelian terminology); the "third way" deals with the nature of being and not being; the "fourth way" deals with the gradation of goodness in everything (somewhat similar to Anselm’s ontological argument); and the "fifth way" is an argument from design.27 What can one learn from Aquinas’ apologetics? Clearly, there is a ring of confidence in the way Aquinas writes. So, perhaps the best point to learn from Aquinas is his tone. He writes as one having authority, interestingly, as Jesus was described (Matt. 7:29 and Mark 1:22).
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Augustine. The Confessions of St. Augustine, trans. Edward Bouverie Pusey. No publisher information available. Kindle.
"The Confessions." Catholic Encyclopedia: Miguel Hidalgo. Accessed July 10, 2018. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1101.htm.
Hasker, William. Metaphysics: Constructing a World View. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Pr., 1989.
Kreeft, Peter. The Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas Course Guide. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books, 2009.
Lane, Tony. A Concise History of Christian Thought. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.
Lewis, C. S. The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007.
Martyr, Justin. The Apologies of Justin Martyr, trans. Rev. Alexander Roberts, and James Donaldson, Suzeteo Enterprises. Kindle.
Noll, Mark A. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012.
Oppy, Graham. "Ontological Arguments." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. February 12, 2016. Accessed July 10, 2018. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ontological-arguments/.
Sadler, Greg. “Anselm of Canterbury.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed July 10, 2018, https://www.iep.utm.edu/anselm/.
Spade, Paul Vincent. “Medieval Philosophy.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. March 15, 2016. Accessed June 10, 2018. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/medieval-philosophy/.
Unknown Author. “3. A Brief History of Apologetics.” Bible.org. Accessed June 10, 2018. https://bible.org/seriespage/brief-history-apologetics.
Walton, Robert C. Chronological and Background Charts of Church History. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.