Original Research

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

Chibuikem C. Nnaeme
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 36, No 1 | a1486 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v36i1.1486 | © 2015 Chibuikem C. Nnaeme | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 June 2015 | Published: 26 November 2015

About the author(s)

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


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 theformer’s claim by proffering that human beings can know God’s existence through effects of God’s 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 God’s existence.

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


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


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