The prior post, on Anselm and Gödel were inspired by my starting to look into linking that as a jumping off point on a larger discussion of Ontology and Christianity, the outline of that “larger discussion” will be found below. Originally I planned to write a post on the future of Nuclear energy based on reading a series of papers set out by a interdisciplinary group of MIT professors. That Nuclear post will be postponed one or two nights.

The “Ontological Argument” (with scare quotes) was apparently originally proposed by Anselm. However this is, far from the first strictly ontological argument (no caps, no quotes) used in Christian or Hebrew theology. Some Greek theologians have made the claim that Greek thought is always ontological, i.e., virtual all Greek though has ontological roots. Ontological arguments in standard theological discussions abound, for example:

  • The creation account in Genesis 1 is an essential ontological activity, separating and categorizing creation.
  • Adam’s fall, his in and exile how that is reasoned to affect us is ontological. Adam himself is an ontological as opposed to historical entity.
  • Christ’s resurrection is interpreted in ontological terms. God/Man to ontological categories joined. His resurrection is connected to Adam’s fall ontologically. His “conquering death by death” is an ontological activity. Satan, taking a man (Jesus) into Hades finds he has not taken a man, but God, which ontologically is impossible (God cannot be taken into death) thus destroying death. 
  • The sacramental act of Baptism is an ontological rite, changing a man from non-Christian to one who is Christian.

This, I think, by no means exhaust ontology within the Christian theological canon. It might be more fair to ask that theological concepts in the Christian tradition are not ontological than what ones are.

There are those who find ontological arguments dissatisfying, yet Maths and Physics themselves have ontological methods within their formalisms. Group theory is essentially ontological in nature. If a thing can be identified as a representative of a group, then all the formalisms and data associated with that group can be attached to it. Quantum statistics, specifically Bose vs Fermi spin statistics, is very ontological. Particle X is has integer or half-integer spin … which thereby determines how it is to be treated.

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Filed under: ChristianityMark O.

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