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What is the Best Way to Prove God?
Honors History 101
Nov 5, 1989
St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the greatest theologians that has ever been. He recognized that there were some people who doubted the existence of God because, to them, logic did not allow for or explain God's existence. Being a devout Christian, he naturally believed in God, but he wanted to prove God's existence to those who could not accept things on faith alone. As a result, we have five proofs of the existence of God by St. Thomas Aquinas, all of which are based on logic and observation of nature. One of his proofs is based on the idea of a first mover and another is based on the idea that intelligence is necessary to direct non-intelligent objects. I believe that this fifth argument is better that the first. St.
Thomas Aquinas' first argument tries to prove that there must be a first mover. He calls this first mover God. He proves this by saying that whatever is in motion must have been put in motion by something else. He then defines one type of motion as the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality, and says that nothing can make this movement except by something that is already in actuality in the same respect as the first object is in potentiality. He goes on to say that no thing can be both actual and potential in respect to the same aspect and, thus, that nothing can be both moved and mover. In this, he means that nothing can move itself. Therefore, if something is in motion, it must have been put in motion by something else, which must have been put in motion by yet another thing, and so on. However, this cannot go on to infinity, as St. Thomas Aquinas explains, because there would never have been a fist mover and, thus, no subsequent movers. This leads to the conclusion that there is a first mover, and this first mover is what is called God.
His fifth argument is actually much more simple. Just by observing the world, we see the non-intelligent things always act toward an end. (It is this observation of the universe that is the basis for the sciences, especially the science of physics.) We also see that non-intelligent things cannot move toward their end unless directed by an intelligent being. As an example, St. Thomas Aquinas uses an arrow. An arrow will not achieve its purpose (that of reaching its mark) unless directed to do so by an archer. Obviously, humans are the intelligent beings that direct the small objects of our world, but there must be a greater intelligence that directs the larger bodies of the universe, such as the stars and the planets, since we obviously have no control over them. This higher intelligence is what we call God.
These two arguments approach the problem of proving God's existence in two completely different ways. One goes the route of saying there must be something that started everything, and the other says there must be something that controls the things that are here, even if "it" did not create them. Both of these arguments seem, at first, to be good and valid in their separate approaches. However, the first on does have one major flaw as I see it. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the line of movers cannot go on to infinity, which common sense would tell you to be true. He thus establishes the arbitrary endpoint of God. The problem I see is that this argument could always be tested to be false by asking the question, "What Moved God?" St. Thomas Aquinas would probably answer that nothing mover God because God has always existed. I personally believe this to be true, but, to prove his first argument, St. Thomas Aquinas must accompany it by another argument that proves God has existed forever. Then, God would not need to have been moved since He would have always been. This would make for a kind of circular flaw in logic or 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. Because of this, I do not believe God can be proved by means of St. Thomas Aquinas' first argument or by any similar means.
In St. Thomas Aquinas' fifth argument, however, I do not see any flaws in logic and I do not thing it needs to rely on any other arguments to be valid. Just by observing the universe, we have found that it operates according to certain rules or laws. However, it seems very unlikely that these laws just appeared out of nowhere, that they emerged with the creation of the universe. According to currently accepted scientific theory, the universe started with the big bang. This theory also states that, if anything existed before the big bang, we cannot predict what it was like because physical laws did not govern the universe at that time. So, it seems, physical laws must have just appeared as a result of the big bang. Science, which traditionally tries to explain the universe without the "crutch" or involvement of God, cannot and could never explain why these laws exist in the first place. The only explanation I can see is that God has put them there to govern the universe. This is the same argument St. Thomas Aquinas uses, and it seems to be completely self- supporting and free of any flaws in logic. For these reasons, I believe this argument to be better than the first argument.
Proving the existence of God is a worthwhile task. If someone did come up with a complete, foolproof argument for the existence of God, the people of the world would have no choice but to believe in His existence. However, even though St. Thomas Aquinas makes a worthy effort, I believe that such a task is not possible through logic and reasoning alone. There is an element of faith that must be present for people to believe, and if that element is not there, no matter how foolproof an argument seems to be, there will always be those who do not believe. In his fifth argument, St/ Thomas Aquinas makes as close to foolproof argument that I believe anyone could make, and, for me, it does prove God's existence. However, if that element of faith is not there, I do not think you can completely prove God's existence to everyone.