Thomas Aquinas and the Arguments about the Existence of God
The existence of God had always been a controversial and debatable topic. It was established that God’s existence can never be proven. First, God is a figure of faith and all that falls under the category of faith cannot be proven. Also, God’s existence cannot be demonstrated; that which cannot be demonstrated cannot be proven. Despite these objections, Thomas Aquinas arrived at five arguments meant to prove that God really does exist.
These proofs are sensible and valid, but not all of them are strong arguments enough to really assert God’s existence. The strongest argument for the God’s existence is the proof about causation, while the weakest argument is the proof about intelligent design.
Aquinas offered five arguments as proofs of the existence of God. The second argument is the strongest proof of God’s existence. This argument states that the existence of God is proven by the nature of the efficient cause (Aquinas, 1270).
Aquinas established God as the “Uncaused Cause” (Dawkins, 2006, p.77). It is necessary for an object to be caused by something, as it cannot cause itself. An object cannot be its own efficient cause, as it would mean that it would have to have existed prior to itself. It is impossible for something to have existed before itself. Therefore, the efficient cause must be something other than the said object. In a series of efficient causes, there is a need for the first efficient cause. The first is that which brought the middle to existence, while the middle caused the last to exist. If a first efficient cause did not exist, the middle and last would not exist. In addition, the series of causes must not be perceived as an infinite cycle; it is impossible that a first cause did not exist. Hence, there exists a first efficient cause—God (Aquinas, 1270).
Why is the second proof the strongest argument? It is the most sensible and logical among all the others. The argument is simple. God exists because it is necessary to have a first efficient cause. It is a universal fact that all things are caused by something. Objects are brought into existence by something other than itself. It is reasonable to conclude that there must be an efficient cause which brings these things into existence. In turn, the causation of things requires a sequence; one thing is caused by another, this other thing is caused by yet another object. One cannot proceed with this chain infinitely, for it is unlikely to have a infinite chain of causes. Thus, there really must be the first efficient cause which started it all. There should be one cause in the beginning of the sequence (McGrath, 2001). God is the first efficient cause of all things. The argument may be simple, but it is certainly reasonable. The existence of God is necessary because there must be something which caused all other things.
The weakest proof is the fifth argument. The fifth argument claims that there is an intelligent being which arranged the world according to a specific design (Aquinas, 1270). There are some things which do not possess intelligence, yet these moves toward a specific purpose. These objects proceed to their purpose with the help of an intelligent being. This argument asserts that God is the intelligent being who was responsible for the order of things. This argument is weak because while it does offer proof of God’s existence, it puts into question His control over intelligent beings. For instance, the argument states that God must exist for he moves unintelligent things towards a purpose; without him, these things cannot survive. However, men are intelligent beings. They do not need assistance from other beings for their rationality enables them to move towards a purpose of their own. It would seem that in this argument, the existence of God is justified only in the case of unintelligent beings. In the case of intelligent beings like men, it seems like it is not necessary for God to exist.
Thomas Aquinas had five arguments as proof of the existence of God. The five arguments are sound, but not all prove God’s existence the same way. The argument of causation is the strongest in terms of proving that God really does exist. On the contrary, the argument of intelligent design is the weakest because it suggests that God’s existence is only necessary for unintelligent beings, instead of all beings. Thomas Aquinas may have begun with a noble intention of proving God’s existence, but his intention did not guarantee flawless arguments.
Aquinas, T. (1270). Reasons in proof of the existence of God. In O. Thatcher (Ed.), The Library of Original Sources, Vol. V: The Early Medieval World (pp. 359-363). Milwaukee: Universal Research Extension Co.
Dawkins, R. (2006). The God Delusion. Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
McGrath, A. (2001). Christian Theology: An Introduction. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell.
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