Ontology is the metaphysical study of the nature of being and existence.  Ontology as an explicit discipline was started by Aristotle (c. 384-322 BC).1  Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109 AD) was one of several people who presented Ontological Arguments supporting the existence of God.2  Not only Anselm's argument, but all ontological arguments assume that if we can conceive of God, then he must exist.  However, since humans can conceive of things that do not exist literally (e.g., a dragon with 20 heads who is knocking on your front door right now), the ontological arguments for God have an obvious weakness.  Thus, these arguments for God are not thought to be viable in the 21st century where everything worthy is data driven.

We in the West certainly live in a "give me just the facts" world.  However, at times we are overwhelmed with facts at school, work, and at home.  This phenomenon is so severe in the Western civilization that we must create a sanctuary for ourselves.  Other than places and events where facts are deemed absolutely necessary, there exists a world of make-believe, a world where feelings are more important than facts.  There we retreat from the onslaught of facts.  There we live by feelings that often defy the facts.  For instance, consider the man who says, "Yes, I smoke, but it won't hurt me or my wife or my children or my co-workers."  So even in hard economic times, the movies are still making lots of money, and flat-screen TV's are the craze.  They are our sanctuaries from the facts, places where we can feel at home in our own secret fantasy world.

Yes, the ontological approach to God is weak.  But weaker still is the Western mind that lives subjectively, whose reality is what we want it to be, regardless of the evidence.

Dear reader, we must continue to struggle for what is real, not just what is real to us subjectively, but what is objectively real.  We may dismiss Ontology, but we must continue to search for objective evidence, even if it conflicts we our feelings.

  2. Baxter, BB. I Believe Because: A Study of the Evidence Supporting Christian Faith. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, © 1971, pp 41-44.