As I was a Christian, my parents use to ask me to read different types of books about God and religion. One of my favorite books that I had read during my high school years was a book by Thomas Aquinas. Thomas Aquinas believed in a unique combination of faith and reason in his believes of God, and had brought up five different arguments on his believes in political and ethical in the existence of God. 1st: The First Mover Aristotle got the idea that the whole universe is in motion from Heraclitus, and he wrote it in his Metaphysics.
When Aquinas read this, he was amazed by this idea.
Aquinas argued that everything must be moved by something. “Everything that moves is moved by something else, for nothing can move unless it has the potentiality of acquiring the perfection of that towards which it moves” (Aquinas, 1950) Aquinas states that there must be a first mover who moves everything since it is impossible for things to be in motion without being moved.
Aquinas then identifies the first mover who is not moved by anyone as God. 2nd: First Cause Aquinas states that there must be an efficient cause for everything in the world and it is impossible for something to cause itself.
“In the world of senses we find that there is a sequence of efficient causes, but we never find something that causes itself, and it is impossible to do because it would precede itself – which is impossible” (Aquinas, 1950) Aquinas argues that if one can trace back infinitively, it is possible to find the first cause that causes everything.
Aquinas got that idea from Aristotle, who said “efficient cause” is what it cause itself and cause everything else, and Aquinas called the first cause God. 3rd: First Being.
Aquinas ponders the theory of existence, wondering why everything exist if there used to be nothing? According to Aquinas, the world can’t be just here all the time, some ‘necessary being’ must have created it. “Everything cannot be [merely] possible but there must be some necessary being in existence. Something is necessary being either as a result of the action of another or not” (Aquinas, 1950) Then Aquinas came up with the conclusion that God is the first being that created itself and created everything out of nothing, and that is why we all exist now.
4th: First perfect thing In Aquinas’s view, there are things that are perfect; therefore, there must be perfect forms in the universe. “The fourth way is based on the gradations that exist in things. We find in the world that some things are more or less true, or good, or noble and so on” (Aquinas, 1950) Something can be closer to ideal than the others, so Aquinas argues that a perfect being must exist. Aquinas then concludes that it is God is the being that is all good and contain “whatever perfection everything has.” (Aquinas, 1950) 5th: Everything follows an order Through observing the nature and learning from other philosophers, Aquinas agrees that there is an order in the universe. Everything tends to follow the idea of teleology, which is to have a function and purpose. “We see that things that lack consciousness such as bodies in nature function purposively” (Aquinas, 1950) Since there is order in the universe that even unconscious things follow, Aquinas thinks there must be someone who designs it, and the being is God.
In Aquinas view, God is the intelligent being that direct everything to its goals. Conclusion I am convinced, but still skeptical on his arguments. It is very hard to directly deny Aquinas’s proofs because they are so strong. Aquinas idea of God is the first mover, first cause and first being is hard to rebut. With the technologies we have in modern societies, we still cannot find out what causes the first movement, what is the efficient cause of everything else, or what is the first thing that existed.
Aquinas is right that it is impossible to create things out of nothing, and the big bang theory we have nowadays is not 100% proven to be accurate. But perhaps one day in the far future our technology may be good enough to disprove Aquinas arguments. Although his points to prove God’s existence are strong, I still come up with a couple questions that assemble the theodicy problem. If God exist, why would there be evil? Why doesn’t God just create a perfect world which there is no suffering? Aquinas tries to answer the with very cliche Christian views that do not satisfy me.
He claims that God is testing our faith and God gives us free-will because we are intelligent. If God is powerful and omniscient, why doesn’t he just create human beings that are faithful and not sinful? There is no point to test our faith if God knows we have faith or not. The theodicy problem is an endless discussion and I believe neither Aquinas nor any person in the current world can fully explain this.