Since time immemorial the question of God’s existence has been at the center of many discussions and debates. To this end, therefore, the ontological argument takes the definition of any efforts to establish ideas out of nothing in an endeavor to validate that indeed God does exist. The discussion has had contributions from various philosophers all who have assumed a given perspective in explaining the concept. As early as 1078, Anselm of Canterbury came up with a first ontological argument supporting the existence of the Western Christian traditions. The argument would become an essential point of reference among other philosophers who either challenged the idea or sought to add their contribution to the newly founded knowledge. According to Anselm, God exists as a greater form one that is perfect and above the challenges of human nature. He argued that the idea of the supreme being must exist in the minds of the people and consequently the same idea must exist in reality. At the same time, Anslem was careful to insert that the supreme being that exists in both the mind and in reality, dwelled in a higher place than humans and as such has more power than the humans. The idea of Anslem was further elaborated by other philosophers such as the French philosopher René Descartes who published numerous works all of them supporting the idea of God’s existence in which God is depicted as being supreme to humans. The Path of Philosophy Truth by John Marmysz provides learners with an opportunity to study and understand philosophy from a more informed position. It discusses the subject matter of philosophy, science, and religion as three distinct concepts but still relates the three as inseparable contents. In this piece, therefore, attention is drawn to the contributions of both Plato and Aristotle on the subject of ontological arguments in an endeavor to establish religion and science and how the two subjects relate.
Plato was among the major contributors in the ontological arguments as he tried to show that indeed God existed and that he supported life as humans know it thoroughly. He used various descriptions to achieve his agenda but, in this piece, attention will be directed towards the allegory of the cave as it not only shows his metaphysics but also his epistemological stand. The Allegory of the cave describes the story of a prisoner who is locked in underground with their feet and neck all locked up. The prisoner is sat stiff and can only look at the bare wall in front of them without anything else to observe. The prisoner has been in the cave since their birth and wall is the only thing they have seen and known their entire lives. Behind the prisoner is a huge fire that illuminates the cave. While workers pass by carrying objects, the prisoners only get to see shadows which they use to construct ideas of what the outside world looks like. The prisoners are disillusioned and believe shadows to be reality when indeed shadows are a mere reflection of the reality. On one occasion one prisoner is taken out of the cave to see the real world. Outside the cave, the prisoner sees the perfect world and place to thrive for humanity. He is challenged by the bright light as his eyes have not yet accustomed to the bright light. The prisoner is delighted by the new findings and believes that all humans deserve to know of this perfect reality. He discovers the sun as the source of life that illuminates the world giving it its life.
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To this end, it becomes clear to him that indeed God did exist. The sun in this case represents God the giver of life while the world above the caves replicates the Christian heaven whereby life is described as perfect and ideal for all (Marmysz 34-237). The prisoner feels indebted to educate the other prisoners in the caves regarding his newly-found knowledge. He descends into the cave to inform them of the same. He tells them that above the cave life was incommunicable and that they only had to see for themselves. They put him into test to identify the shadows in the dark. Due to his poor eyesight in the cave he fails to identify the shadows and the prisoners kill him for the same. In this manner, the allegory of the cave compares to the Christian version of how Jesus Christ came to the world to educate the people of the existence of God and when the people could not find substantial proof they proceeded to crucify him. At the same time, the allegory of the cave highlights the subject of science in great depth. It explains the lack of light in the caves and the poor deformed shadows in the cave. It is due to lack of acclimatization to light that the prisoner struggles to recognize anything once he gets out of the cave. At the same time, the prisoner struggles with the shadows once he returns to the cave due to poor lighting. The allegory also explains the sun as the source of light and life on earth which supports all livelihood. To this end, Plato’s Allegory of the cave manages to highlight the existence of God, science and also shows how the two are intertwined to improve the human experience.
Aristotle was another influential philosopher in advancing knowledge regarding the matter of science more specifically and the matter of God. Aristotle has often been described as an empiricist in the manner that he describes the acquisition of knowledge. According to him, humans are born without any form of knowledge whereby he describes this situation as a blank tablet “tabula rasa.” Such is the nature of human nature upon birth. Aristotle explains that humans learn from interacting with their immediate environment whereby the young ones learn from the seniors. The same process is best explained using the social learning theory posited by Albert Bandura in the 1960s whereby he supports that through interaction with the environment people get the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and advance existing knowledge. It is through learning forms that one gains the capacity to form explanations on different subjects. Aristotle insists on the essence of learning forms to additionally going on to define them as a way to understand the mechanisms of how things work. In his views on epistemology, he explains that those that believe in the existence of God adapt to define and explain concepts from the perspective that everything happens due to God’s plans (Marmysz 34-237). Similarly, He encourages the exploring of science as a way to advance life to understand what causes things to happen the way they do and how to manage them. In this essence, therefore, Aristotle leaves learners to understand that with perfect knowledge one can explain life relying on either science or religious background.
Concluding, the two philosophers serve a significant role in advancing knowledge both scientific and religious. The concept offered by Plato offers an in-depth coverage that requires learners to delve deeper into an endeavor to clearly understand the matter. The allegory of the cave is both intriguing and informative as it gives the image of life under the cave and above the land. Above the land, life is depicted as heavenly similar to the Judeo-Christian-Muslim concept with a single God supplying life as the sun does. It also offers a brief element of how science works in the manner that under the cave there is limited life due to limited sunlight while above the ground life is thriving due to sunlight. In this manner, Plato manages to show the connection between religion and science as one that thrives on improving the human experience on earth. On the other hand, Aristotle establishes knowledge and understanding as the underpinning elements of life. Although knowledge is never innate in humans, through interactions, humans can learn what is good and what is bad. Understanding any Form of Good becomes the foundation of life as one will strive to meet the standards of the Form of Good in an endeavor to live harmoniously with others. Such is the concept of Judeo-Christian-Muslim forms all which encourage observing the Form of Good as the way to please God.
- Marmysz, John. The Path Of Philosophy. 1st ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.