’s Existence Essay, Research Paper
The first argument introduced by Aquinas states that nothing could move, unless it is being moved by something else, suggesting that there is an original mover. Aquinas asserts that motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality, but nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality except by something in a state of actuality. Further, he concludes that since the relationship between motion and mover can’t go on to infinity, there must have been a first mover- God. However, the first argument ignites several questions. First, how do we know that all things are in motion? The idea of motion is based on sense perception, simply showing but not proving that all existing things are in motion. Then, which sense perception is the accurate one? Apparently, Aquinas does not present facts supporting his idea for the existence of God. He uses the notion of motion introduces earlier by Aristotle, but in opposition to him, St Thomas saw all motion as purposeful. A purpose denotes a plan and, if there’s a plan, there must be planner. Therefore, movement in the universe happening to the scale at which it does “proves” a grand planner indeed. Aristotle didn’t see movement as having an end, one designed by God. Motion to Aristotle, and to many atheists, can just be motion, with no particular plan behind it. Then, another question appears of what if the creation of the universe has happened by chance and not by design. Thus, there is no necessity for a first mover. Finally, it is also reasonable to imagine the universe to be infinite in space and time, with a never-ending series of causal movements. How can then Aquinas logically link something unknown in the world with something known in the world? At best, this teleological argument can only suggest the possibility of a grand architect but cannot provide evidence that God, the unmoved mover, has created the universe. The second proof for the existence of God, defined by Aquinas, is related to the first one and also rests on the Aristotelian philosophy. To Aquinas, since nothing can exist prior to and as cause of itself, there must be an order, chain of efficient causes in the world. Similarly to the idea in the previous argument, Aquinas states that there can’t be an infinite number of efficient causes, and thus he identifies the first efficient cause as God. Again several paradoxes are formed from the formulation of this argument. To begin with, the question appears of how St Thomas Aquinas decides that everyone calls this first cause “God.” Obviously, this proof relies heavily on acceptance of the first proof. Aquinas again assumes that motion has purpose, and that purpose denotes an intelligent planner. However, there is no evidence that simply because God is the first cause and pure actuality, God is the cause of His own being. Further by stating that the line of causes cannot go on to infinity, Thomas Aquinas establishes the endpoint of God. The problem I see is that this argument could always be tested to be false by asking the question, “What Caused God?” St. Thomas Aquinas would probably answer that God is the uncaused cause because God has always existed. To prove this argument, St. Thomas Aquinas must accompany it by another argument that proves God has existed forever. Then, God would not need to have been caused since He would have always been. This would lead to a paradox in that he could not prove God existed, until he proved God has existed forever, and he obviously cannot prove that God has existed forever until he proves that God exists at all. Cycling around those questions doesn’t prove the existence of God. In addition, Aquinas’ philosophy does not allow for simultaneous causation, which can be a reasonable explanation of the creation of the Universe. Moreover, Aquinas does not provide evidence that there is just one uncaused cause. Because of this, I do not believe God’s existence can be proved by means of St. Thomas Aquinas’ first and second arguments. The third proof for the existence of God is the one out of the ideas of contingency and necessity. Following the ideas of Avicenna, Aquinas considers God’s existence as inseparable from His essence. This leads to the notion that there is no possibility in the Aquinas’ philosophy for the existence of God as an independent one. God is existence himself and has the power to confer existence to other beings. Logically, if we ask the question, “Who made the universe?” then, it is also reasonable to ask the question, “Who made God?” Aquinas stated that God is the only one whose existence is out of necessity. However, if you can come to the conclusion that at least one being came into existence of its own necessity, why not two, three or more? The God of the Bible is a Trinity of Persons. Thus, who is to say there was only one original Prime Mover? Isn’t there a possibility that there were many Gods, working on the creation of the Universe together? Perhaps, our universe is a result of one of many attempts of creation. Further, the question appears of whether the Universe itself exists out of necessity. Then, does the Universe have teleology or a goal? If there are only contingent beings and this universe has existed through an infinite amount of time, then all possibilities of everything must have already occurred. And one of those possibilities is the simultaneous non-existence of all beings.
To Aquinas, the fourth proof of the existence of God rests on the observation of degrees of perfection or goodness in the word. This argument from gradation is drawn from the ideas of Augustine and Plato. Aquinas considers that there are degrees of perfections: good, better, perfect and so on. This implies the notion that there is Being that is the most perfect one. This highest “being,” according to Aquinas, is the cause for the relative perfection of other beings. In addition, Aquinas presumes God’s existence as equal and inseparable from his essence. However, the conclusion that Aquinas reaches is based on an observation of a different existence, existence that is not relevant to God and therefore can’t be compared with Him, as He is the only one who is essence and existence are the same time. The question is obvious as to how can someone know of the existence of God, when there is nothing else that one can compare that existence to. Human view is too limited to allow extrapolation from the physical world into the divine world. St Thomas has not yet demonstrated that God exists but he is “proving” God’s existence by describing God’s qualities. Also, when describing God as the only being that is both existence and essence Aquinas regards “being” as a characteristic related only to Him. Can “being” be a characteristic and if it is then it must be separable from essence? Thus, one can see the circular conflict that erupts from Aquinas’ ideas about the nature of God. Another problem recognized according to the premise of the fourth argument is the existence of evil and its place in Aquinas’ philosophy. Evil cannot belong to the created order, as God both conceives of the forms and creates the substance. Existence for the beings created by God is understood as good that tends toward its goal, or Him. Thus, Aquinas’ explanation is based on the notion that there is no “duality,” meaning evil does not exist separate. However, evil is the worst argument against the existence of God. How can a good God create beings and order that does not exclude evil in the framework? St. Thomas Aquinas’ fifth argument is based on the rules and laws that operate in the Universe, suggesting that there is an order in it. This is the teleological argument, which states that the order in the Universe presumes the existence of a Being that has established this order. Aquinas states the argument from design for the existence of God based on analogy. However, does an intelligent design means the existence of an intelligent designer? By looking at nature, it is evident that nature is a dynamic existence. Then, the question of what exactly is nature or the Universe spurs diverse descriptions of its essence. Sense perception reveals the complexity and dynamics of this living organism. However, the result or effect of something does not prove the cause of its existence. Again, Aquinas implies that by knowing the physical world we should know God. At the same time, human knowledge, which arises out of experience and perception in the physical world, has in lesser capacity than God himself but can be compared with him. By suggesting the above notion, Aquinas wants to proof his world-view, which assumes that God has not only created the divine order but also sustains this order. Then, logically we can ask, “How can such a divine and complex order be compared to the physical, perceptive world?” To Aquinas, God’s functions not only by overlooking the order that he has created, but he also sustains the universe. Thus, St. Thomas Aquinas attempts to describe qualities and functions of God, by means of which he wants to prove his existence. Therefore, this proof of the existence of God made by analogy of something so incomprehensible as the divine world cannot be strong evidence. There is no straight relationship between the result of creation and the creator. Thus, the order of the universe cannot prove the existence of an intelligent designer. In conclusion, Summa Theologica presents Aquinas’ attempt to integrate faith and reason. He endeavored to prove that the two truths could never be in conflict. Aquinas believed that the natural mind could find truths concerning the physical attributes of the universe, but without faith, reason couldn’t grasp spiritual truths such as God. However, it becomes obvious that there are many uncertainties and questions about the existence of God. This leads to the conclusion that it is impossible to integrate faith and reason, without presenting conflicting truths derived from the attempt to unite Aristotelian philosophy with Christian theology.