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The Five Proofs for the Existence of God by Thomas Aquinas

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Matthew Erickson

on 12 September 2014

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Transcript of The Five Proofs for the Existence of God by Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas' 5 Proofs for God's Existence
1. Let's see what happens if we argue the opposite of God's existence.
2. Let's assume that all beings are "contingent" (there was a time they didn't exist.)
3. There could be a time when no thing existed.
4. Nothing would have created anything else and there would be nothing.
5. Therefore, since the statement "all beings are contingent" is false, it's opposite must be true.
3rd Way: Argument from Necessity
1. Some things are better than other things.
2. We can only know something is better because we have some standard to measure it against. (A thing is hotter because we can measure it against that which is "hottest")
3. We measure the perfection of beings against something perfect: God
4th Way: Gradation of Perfection
1. Every natural body works towards some goal (not in Newtonian physics though...)
2. An arrow reaches it's target because it's directed by an archer. Unintelligent things are directed by intelligent things.
3. Somebody has to be directing all those non-intelligent objects as they move through the universe.
5th Way: Design
Not "Proof" in the sense that they can't be refuted
More like a "way" of coming to realize God's existence
They are based on the cutting edge of 13th century science... i.e. Aristotle
Most of them don't hold up given today's science
But they still affirm that we can use our reason to reflect on the universe and thereby know God.
Thomas Aquinas' 5 Proofs
Some things are in motion
Nothing can move itself, so something has to move it
This can't extend back forever...
Something must have been the first mover
1st Way: Motion (Change)
1. Everything is caused by something else.
2. Ex. A building (An effect) only exists because someone (A cause) made it.
3. The person who made the building was also made.
4. And so forth on back.
5. Ultimately, there had to be something that caused the first effect to take place...
2nd Way: "Efficient Causes" (maker)
Not anymore... we have a very different understanding of physics today.
For example: Aquinas believed that an object in motion would naturally come to a stop.
Newton said that an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

They remind us, however, of the validity of using our senses and intellect to understand something about God.

These arguments are merely meant to clarify our primordial knowledge of God.
Do they work?
1. Most things can either be or not be.
2. These things can't always exist.
3. If everything can fail to exist, then at one point there was nothing. [This is the important step]
4. Nothing would have created itself, there would be nothing rather than something.
5. Therefore, there must be something on which everything else depends.
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