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How can we know the existence of God: Anselm and Aquinas?

Chibuikem C. Nnaeme

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 36, No 1 (2015), 6 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v36i1.1486

Submitted: 08 June 2015
Published:  26 November 2015


This article is concerned with how we can know about the existence of God. In attempting to do this, the article will single out two medieval thinkers, Anselm and Aquinas, and will examine their stances on the subject. The former holds, as exemplified in his ontological proof,that human beings can rationally know the existence of God, whilst the latter objects to theformerís claim by proffering that human beings can know Godís existence through effects of Godís creation. Over the years these positions have appealed to people who defend eitherstr and of the argument. Such a followership makes worthwhile my efforts to contribute to the ongoing debate. It is my intention to show the argument of each of these positions and indicate which is more plausible to human beings. It is vital to note that Anselm and Aquinas both accept the existence of God; therefore, the existence of God is not in question for them.The article will only concentrate on where the two thinkers differ in terms of how human beings can know Godís existence.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article challenges idealistsíphilosophy that human beings can prove Godís existence from the concept, God, as epitomisedby Anselmís ontological argument. The critique of the argument through the application of Aquinasís realism exposes the limitedness of the human beings in epistemological conception of the absolute metaphysical reality.

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Author affiliations

Chibuikem C. Nnaeme, Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Westville Campus, South Africa


God; Existence; Essence, Anselm, Aquinas; Via Negativa


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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