Boethius's Arguments for the existence of God


Boethius… tackles the complex question of God’s existence by providing two arguments, the first of which pertains to the imperfections in the world, while the other discusses the ordered nature of the universe.

The Existence of Imperfection Humans never truly encounter “perfection”. If, through some advanced technology, we were able to create a perfectly straight line, we would be viewing an image of perfection and not perfection itself; however, the fact that we are able to recognize imperfection in our world implies that there must be some ultimate perfection against which we are comparing everything to. Plainly put, “anything that is imperfect is imperfect because it is lacking in some way and falls short of perfection” (III,10, pg 86). The existence of imperfection presupposes the existence of perfection. We can identify imperfection only because we possess the knowledge that there is a full, perfect version of this thing. Not only must there be perfection then, but there also must be an ultimate perfection, to which all else is imperfect in juxtaposition. Anything that is lacking in perfection is thus inferior to something else that is more perfect and so on, until the ultimate perfection is reached. The ultimate perfection, compared to which all else is deficient in our world, is God, and it is because we recognize the presence of Him that we are able to identify imperfections as imperfect.

Nature is Ordered. Boethius proceeds to justify his argument that God must, in fact, exist by identifying Him as the being or force that is responsible for creating and maintaining the world. He suggests that the world, rife with natural tensions and differing parts, would not have been able to come together, and remain together, without a being or force that was able to unify it all. Boethius states, “This world would never have coalesced into one form out of such diverse and antagonistic parts had there not been one who could unify such diversity” (III, xii, pg 79). The extremely fixed order of nature, with its many systems that often oppose each other yet are somehow able to coexist, could not subsist unless there were some being who was able to regulate everything. Without some sort of glue to hold the universe together, the diverse elements of nature would tear each other apart, and creation would not be able to remain in such an orderly motion. Yet, we continually witness the seasons come with regularity, snowy winters are tempered by heated summers, and the earth continues to rotate on its axis. The extreme regularity and orderly coexistence of natural elements, which are inherently in opposition with each other, are proof that there must be some powerful force or being that is able to maintain them. This being is called “God”.


OK… perhaps I’m a bit less old and a bit less skeptical than you. So, then: what “fundamentally mistaken assumptions” do you see here?

If I were re-stating Boethius from my 21st century perspective, I’d think I’d note that:

  • there is entropy in the world. And, noting that I’m able to perceive a decline in order, I must conclude that (1) there were prior states of greater order and (2) if the notion of ‘disorder’ exists, then there must be a notion of ‘perfect order’ which exists.
  • the earth simply didn’t come to be; science tells us of the forces that made it come into being. Science, however, doesn’t tell us how those forces came to bear – just that they did, in the context of a ‘Big Bang.’ Boethius is defining this force that set things in motion as ‘God’. (As definitions go, that’s not an unreasonable one. If you want to call that force something else, have at it! :wink: )

So… what’s unreasonable here? :thinking:


My intention was to discuss the Arguments made by Boethius. If you wish to dismiss them out of hand and assert that there is something wrong with them without actually demonstrating why they are wrong, then that is entirely your prerogative; but in my mind that makes you a weak philosopher since you are not adding anything of value to the discussion.

As for whether or not his arguments succeed, i am not very interested in his second argument, but i am interested in his first one. It makes sense that if you can identify an imperfect act of reality this would only be possible if there where really such a thing as an absolutely perfect act of reality because imperfection versus perfection is a comparative concept and one cannot have meaning without the other.

The only way you can counter this argument is to argue that the very notion of perfection or imperfection is objectively meaningless.

So whether or not you accept his argument is entirely dependent on whether or not you think there is such a thing as an imperfect act of reality.


Are they?..Simply stating that they are merely subjective terms is not an argument.


There doesn’t have to be a temporal first cause, but there does have to be a necessary uncaused cause, otherwise there can be no such thing as a contingent being and there evidently are contingent being/states/emergent properties/ what-have-you. These are all actualized potential.


If you have an argument make one.


In other-words you have no argument, only assertions. Thanks for your participation.


The assertion that metaphysics makes pure assertions is in of itself an assertion. Please prove this.


You claim that metaphysics is useless since it makes unfounded assertions. Please prove this.


I wasn’t arguing for objective truth. Now please answer the question.


Not everyone finds solipsism rational.


Let’s try to stick at one point of the argument at a time.


So once again. Do you have good reason to believe metaphysics makes unfounded assumptions?


It’s what his position boils down to, whether he realizes it.


With all due respect, let’s try not to distract him from the question at hand.


We don’t have one simpler irrefutable answer, why is that?


And can you go about proving it?


I agree. There are many who use philosophy and metaphysics out of pride. That doesn’t answer my question.


So you don’t have an easy answer to the question because I’m supposedly ego centric. Where do you draw that conclusion?


Please explain.

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