5 Proofs of the Existence of God by Thomas Aquinas
Aquinas’ philosophy is a cosmological argument since the various arguments used in explaining the existence of God relate to the universe. The premises and conclusions that build up the philosophy were derived from rational thinking. However, the overall development of the philosophy was greatly influenced by the work of Aristotle in physics and metaphysics. This background is a prerequisite for understanding the various ways God manifests Himself as described by Aquinas. Aristotle believed that for something to change, there has to be a force to effect it. Thus, this cause explained why the natural process exits as it may. The philosophy seeks to promote the propagation of Christianity. This paper provides insights into Aquinas’ philosophy and describes the five distinct proofs of the existence of God as fronted by Thomas Aquinas. Eventually, it justifies why Aquinas must have been right in developing the theory of God’s exitence (Aquinas 15).
The first proof is based on motion. It argues that it is easy to notice from our senses that some things in the world are in motion. For these things to be in motion, there has to be something responsible for that movement. This means that things cannot move on their own. Therefore, that which moves needs to transform from a state of actuality to that of potentiality while the mover has to be in actual motion. As a result of this, the mover cannot be moving and at the same time responsible for the movement. However, it would also indicate continuous motion where one sets another and another sets the object. If this is the case, then the movement would be infinite if the process is to be reversed backwards. Evidently, there would be no first mover, the unmoved mover. The unmoved mover is responsible for initiating all the movements. Thus, the argument in the first proof explains the existence of the first mover capable of moving other things being not in motion from another. According to Aquinas, the possible reference which each person should be able to infer is God (Kenny 32).
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The second proof postulated by Aquinas is efficient causes. The world which is sensible has efficient causes which can exist as either one cause or a sequence of intermediate causes. It is not possible to find something that exists prior to itself or otherwise responsible for anything being found to exist from its own cause. For that reason, there is an efficient cause for everything. There cannot be any effect, result or final cause if there is no first efficient cause. Thus, if there is no first efficient cause, there would be no cause. This is because sequentially, the next cause would depend on the previous one. In all these cases, if causes were to be backtracked, it would suggest the existence of a finite cause. This implies that the efficient causes cannot go to infinity, because they have to maintain the given order. The first efficient cause is a response for its effect, either bringing things to place or modifying them. Therefore, for Aquinas, everyone can deduce that the first efficient force is God (Aquinas 43).
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The proof of necessity and possibility is the third attestation explaining the existence of God. This point argues that in nature, it is possible for things to exist and not to exist. This is because these things can come into being with time and pass away at another time. Therefore, for something to exist, there has to be a time when it did. It would also imply that if everything did not exist at some time, then nothing existed. Consequently, if the previous statement is true, nothing would be in existence in this time, but again not everything exists. This gives the existence a contingent perspective. The existence of nothing existing makes it difficult for anything to exist which is quite odd. Since everything cannot exist, there has to be something whose existence is necessary for other things to exist. Every necessary being derives its necessity from another. In this situation, if the sequence is reversed, it would not get infinite. From this explanation, there exists a being with its own necessity whose existence is from itself and not another. According to Aquinas, all men speak of God (Aquinas 79; Barnes 351).
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The fourth proof is often considered as gradation of being. The world has beings and things of varying scalable characteristics of goodness. According to Aquinas, it can be more or less good, noble, true or so on. However, there has to be that which is perfect to induce inference from it for such grading. Therefore, to effect grading, a thing has to resemble that which is uttermost in that particular degree in a given way. For example, something which is hotter has to resemble a thing that is hottest like fire. Therefore, in case of good, we get best; for noble, there is noblest; and in the place of true – the truest. On the same note, in a particular genus, the exhibitor of perfection is the source of this characteristic for the rest in the genus. Therefore, there is some perfect being which is the origin of all beings to all beings. This is where we derive the goodness and the epitome of perfection for that which we get in other beings. This being is God (Aquinas 96).
Finally, the fifth proof is derived from design or teleology. It talks about the design and operations of how various things are present in the work as well as why they do so. In the fifth argument, Aquinas articulates that natural processes work towards a given purpose. These natural processes are deficient of knowledge which is manifested in the repetitive nature of their operation. These actions, which are always done again and again or in the same way, are derived from their design. Since the design achieves some purpose, there has to be an intelligent being responsible for crafting this process.