St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas
The Five Ways of the Summa Theologica was written by St. Thomas Aquinas. In this writing Aquinas argues against two objections of the existence of a God and provides five arguments in which he believes to solidify the idea that God does exist, further disproving these objections. Aquinas’s first argument for the existence of God is that of motion. To Aquinas, everything is in motion and motion must start from somewhere. He explains that nothing can be moved without something previously causing that movement and thus proves that God is real because God is the initial mover.
This argument, however, does not prove the existence of God. If we were to think that this argument proves anything it would be that we do not know the initial mover nor do we know what actually causes these motions. God in this sense is used as an answer to a question that we do not really know the answer to. Aquinas’s second argument for the existence of God is based on cause and effect. Aquinas’s argument is that there is no effect without a cause; God being the cause and the universe being the effect.
He also believes that this is not an infinite possibility and that there must be a start and an end and without the middle there will be no beginning or end. Again, he offers an argument that in no way proves the existence of God. Aquinas appears to be filling in the lack of answers with the existence of God and not rebutting the holes that his argument leaves open. When I turn on the light switch in my room, I am essentially the first mover and I am the creator of that light. Does this make me God because I wield the power of light at my fingertips or are there better explanations of how the light came to be?
Aquinas’s third argument is simply that nothing can exist from nothing; therefore, there had to be something in existence to create this world and that was God. This argument is based on the pure assumption that nothing comes from nothing and that something can cause something. For one to assume such a thing would be completely absurd because this lacks any evidence. Similarly, Aquinas’s argument assumes a creator and fails to give adequate proof of this creator’s existence. The fourth argument that Aquinas presents is that of gradation.
He states that all things have a minimum and a maximum or the worst and the best and uses the example of fire—fire is the maximum of heat. He further concludes that all beings are caused by something and that there must be a greatest of that being of which it was created by and that being is God. “Therefore there must be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection. ” This argument explains why there can be evil in the world because God is the most good of us all and we are lesser than God. What this argument fails to describe is the idea of what is greater than God.
Would there not be a more powerful, more good, more perfect being in which created God? The fifth and final argument that Aquinas presents is that all beings are on a path and lack the knowledge of that path. Thus all beings are guided by a greater being with more knowledge who directs them. Regardless if God were to exist or not, all beings are bound to die. Is that the path that God is directing us toward? There are plenty of people in the world who do not believe in the existence of God and they are not immortal, their lives still come to an end.
To a non believer or skeptic living a life without guidance or acceptance of God will die just as that of a believer in God. So if God were to show us the way to the end, how can the two parties reach the same ending, one with guidance and one without? While Aquinas does make some very good points on why one should or does believe in the existence of God, he in no why proves anything of the sort. His assertions are all based on the presumption that there is a God and that he is the answer to all things without solid proof.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 23 November 2016
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