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Old 29-07-2004, 01:19 AM   #1
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Thomas Aquinas's Proofs of God's Existence

Before your fong me and tie me to a stake,

the purpose of this thread is to discuss/debate/refute/validate Thomas Aquinas's Proofs.

KRev assumes no responsibility for the Proofs. They are the sole intellectual property of Sir Thomas.

*TRY TO KEEP "RELIGION" OUT OF THIS. WE'RE HERE ONLY TO EVALUATE THE VALIDITY OF AQUINAS'S CLAIMS! *

PROOF ONE: Everything in the world changes. Aquinas' argument here needs to be understood against the background of Aristotle's discussion of astronomy. Aristotle argued that planetary motion which caused the seasons to change required an unmoved mover who would maintain the order of things. Aquinas used this notion to speak of the sustaining work of God. Thus without God the heavens and the earth would not exist.

PROOF TWO: The notion of cause and effect means you cannot have the latter (effect) without the former (cause - here called efficient cause (which refers to that which brings another thing into existence or causes something to change)). There cannot be an endless regression of cause and effect thus there must be a first cause which is God.

PROOF THREE: Things exist in the world but they need not. There was a time before certain things existed and there will be a time when they no longer exist. There must also have been a time when nothing existed. Objects have contingent existence (they can or cannot exist) but only God has necessary existence (God must exist). Thus if God did not exist nothing else would exist.

PROOF FOUR: We can see in the world degrees of perfection and goodness. We know these degrees because we can compare them with the maximum in any genus (genus = group of things). As humans have the capacity for both good and bad deeds they cannot be the source of all goodness. Therefore, the maximum in the genus of morality must be God (the most perfect being), who is the 'first cause', or source, of all goodness and perfection.

PROOF FIVE: Nature points to the notion of order in that things seem to have an innate sense of purpose (design?). We know that nothing that has purpose does so without the aid of a 'guiding hand' (E.g. an archer shooting an arrow at a target) thus everything in nature is directed to its goal by God.

Now, go to...
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Old 29-07-2004, 01:31 AM   Senior Registered Member #2
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Interesting...
I for one, have always believed in God, or some type of creator. Someone had to start it all when there was nothing to begin with (stated in "PROOF THREE".) I also believe in a higher being because of the personalities in humans...
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Old 29-07-2004, 01:49 AM   #3
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Even atheistic scientists acknowledge that the universe must've had a beginning. Hence the Big Bang Theory.

Matter cannot be eternal, given the Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy).

Aquinas recognized this during the medieval ages!
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Old 29-07-2004, 02:13 AM   Officer #4
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I'd let Baz handle most of the cosmological argument here, because my apologetic stance deals mostly with morality. But, the biggest problem with Aquinas' Five Ways is due to the belief in finite time. If time was an infinite regress, then there would be no need for a so-called 'First Cause'. And, as Big Bang theorists propound, time existed only immediately after the Big Bang, in which from an infinitesimal point in space-time derived from all directions the very fabric of space-time.

But if you believe that something must have caused the Big Bang, the relation of cause and effect must be due to some temporal substance; that is, a cause must precede the effect, and the effect must proceed from the cause. However, if time did not exist BEFORE the Big Bang, then to be sure there was no temporal cause FOR the Big Bang, and it was both a cause and effect in and of itself.

Most scientists now do agree that the Big Bang is the cause of the universe, but you cannot necessarily be sure that something caused the Big Bang. Most theorists believe that the Big Bang caused itself. But we cannot really use the word 'cause' in relation to anything before or at the moment of the Big Bang, simply because the word 'cause' connotates time, and time did not exist then - only AFTER the Big Bang.

As for the argument from design, I'll get back to you on that.

(Mind you, I'm a Christian, and I seem to have an interest in apologetics. I'm only proffering what I have learned from past debates and my own reading, as a method of learning.)
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Old 29-07-2004, 02:18 AM   #5
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I see your "time" point, DR.

However, when stated behind my suppositions it--all due respect--seems like a red herring. Not to negate your point. Just a thought.

I'll await a theory for the lifespan of matter and answer to my entropy point.
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Old 29-07-2004, 03:36 AM   Officer #6
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I don't expect it to be considered a 'red herring', simply because theism itself can be considered a 'red herring' in itself. As most people think, it is just as difficult to prove God's existence, as it is to disprove it.

As J.L. Mackie writes in his book "The Miracle of Theism", to believe that things exist for a reason, for contingency, may only "[express] an arbitrary demand; it may be intellectually satisfying to believe that there is, objectively, an explanation for everything together, even if only we can guess at what the explanation might be. But we have no right to assume that the universe will comply with our intellectual preferences" (Mackie 86-87).

For the fourth point, that involves morality, which is more or less my bread and butter, when it comes to apologetical belief. For one thing, many people debate whether or not morality even exists. Morality, like ethics, derives from society, from whether or not something is divined to be good or bad, based upon preference of the culture. What one culture believes to be manifestly good, may indeed be considered taboo in another. What makes Hitler a bad person? Is it the culture of the world at the time that Hitler made his mark?

Yet, I think Hitler is a bit too extreme of a model character. Take the average person. What makes his actions moral and just? Is it simply because he believes it to be moral and just, or that society around him thinks it so? If murder to one person is justifiable, does that make murder in all cases justifiable? And the existence of such creatures as Adolf Hitler is of itself a point against morality: why would God create such evil beings? Why is there evil in the world at all? And even if we did Fall, and Original Sin does exist, why doesn't God simply absolve it?

As for design, the fifth point, the greatest argument probably comes from David Hume, in which he derives five points of discussion (in chronological order) to debate the argument from design:

1) Is the connection between nature and order close enough to make theism a plausible explanation?

2) If so, then still would alternative hypotheses weaken the theistic possibility, and render it moot.

3) If even the theistic possibility is true, then one would still have to postulate to the reasoning behind the theistic Designer, whose very existence must be explained, as it is another case of order and design.

4) And even if the Designer's existence is proven, then one would invariably believe it moot, simply because the Designer's moral component in designing the universe is void due to the existence and occurrence of evil.

5) And even if all four of the previous statements can be answered, one cannot begin to postulate on the workings of the world around us using the argument - including prayer (both answered and unanswered), why good men are punished for crimes they have not committed, why bad men go free, etc., or even to the existence of a possible afterlife.
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Old 29-07-2004, 06:59 AM   #7
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No one can prove or disprove God's existence.
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Old 29-07-2004, 09:55 AM   Senior Registered Member #8
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Who thought of God? Its only a term made by humans to tell themselves, ahhh that's the one who has created us. And I've always wondered if God just came into existence by himself. Its a never ending chain of events stretching billions of years. There's no point really to argue it =| Alby said it, you can't prove or disprove His existence.
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Old 29-07-2004, 10:26 AM   #9
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I'm glad I gave up religion years ago, I can laugh at all this.

 
Old 29-07-2004, 11:00 AM   Officer #10
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Yet, it is the very question that haunts us in the deep recesses of our mind. Is there a purpose to life? And if so, what is that purpose? I think the question of God is probably the most commonly mocked yet decidedly important ponderance. Whether we have meaning to our lives, whether what we do makes any difference to the world in general, is the choice we live with every moment of our waking lives.

And of course most people think it is impossible to either prove or disprove God's existence, a handful spend their entire lives doing just that. I think it is, simply because it has to be either one or the other. If God cannot be proven or disproven, and all we really have to go on is pure 'blind faith', then I think that would lead ultimately to ignorance. (This not to say that those who believe blindly are stupid, but rather that in my opinion, I would like to believe that belief requires not something so blind, but rather something as spiritual - that we can actually know and acknowledge.) If God does not exist, then so be it. But if He does, then that would raise just as many questions.

Early theologians believed as Anselm and Augustine did, that one does not know in order to believe, but rather one believes in order to know. And in a way, that is truth.
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Old 29-07-2004, 11:15 AM   First Class Member Attended an OMGWTFKKWBBQ! KKWiki Contributer Administrator #11
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Points one, two and three are invalid because Aquinas knew nothing about the nature of time as a function of space.

Point five is invalid because Aquinas knew nothing of Natural Selection or Anthropic Principle.

Some philsophers (Plato, Hume, Descartes) proposed ideas that stood the test of time. Aquinas was someone I never had much faith in, since his ideas rest on foundations of reality that have, in the last hundred years, been shaken to pieces.
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Old 29-07-2004, 11:55 AM   First Class Member Officer #12
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I see no proof that God is exsists. Religion was created by man, so it never exsited in the first place.
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Old 29-07-2004, 12:18 PM   First Class Member Attended an OMGWTFKKWBBQ! KKWiki Contributer Administrator #13
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And with so many worldwide religions, statistically it would appear prudent to assume that they all branched from a single instance and thus we could say with some certainty that ALL modern religions are incorrect.

With every organised religious institution's view that theirs is the ONLY right one to follow, it cannot be that they are all correct. Ergo it is almost certain that they are, infact, all wrong.
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Old 29-07-2004, 03:31 PM   Senior Registered Member #14
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i believe in them. ive been reading this really interesting book one on christian apologetics by peter kreeft. fabulous in a later chapter he discusses the proofs when i get there. ill share his thoughts. ibelieve them having studied them sophmore year of hs though im a little rusty.
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Old 29-07-2004, 08:15 PM   Officer #15
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There actually should be a difference in pondering whether religion is right, or whether God exists or not. One can disapprove of organized religion as a whole, simply because different churches have different ideas about what is right and what is wrong. However, one can still believe in a personal deity, and that is where apologetics helps. Religion is meant to focus on what God is, and what His purpose is for the world, and how we must act in accordance with His plans. The existence of God acknowledges nothing about His purpose or designs (if there is such a thing), simply that He has created the world.

The major monotheistic religions of the world - Judaism, Christianity, Islam - all coincide from the same deity, though worshipped in different ways. Whether or not any one of the three are wrong can be easily debated, but why they actually believe in a God is a different matter.
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Old 29-07-2004, 08:52 PM   #16
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The weird thing is not that supposedly God sent his own son to earth to die for the sins of man. The weird thing is that this actually makes sense to about a billion people.
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Old 29-07-2004, 09:31 PM   Senior Registered Member #17
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i believe there is a creator of the world, doesnt nessarily have to be god or have the same principles, but going to a catholic school for the last 9 years of my life, i've realized that the school has really been imbedding their beliefs in the students, even if it's their choice (or parents) to be there. i find it funny that in religion class, i can just fake everything, like in papers all you have to do is say you believe in God and go along with the everything they say. it's actually really easy to get a good grade.

really i agree with Barrington, everything he says is true and undisputable, it's like he's god.....
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Old 29-07-2004, 10:08 PM   #18
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OK.

Apparently few people actually read the first post.

Guess they just saw the word God, their brains shut off, and their mouths went into "Religion is stupid mode." (You know who you are.)

If you can't evaluate Aquinas's claims with the least bit of logic--proof of your conjectures would be nice, too--then stop spamming the thread!

Gawww... It's like teaching Kindergarten... Special Ed.

Now I know how the Mods feel...
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Old 30-07-2004, 09:40 AM   #19
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I wouldn't call them Aquinas's "proofs" because the word proof implies that you have facts and hard evidence, which you clearly don't have. I'd say they're more like Aquinas's speculations, because I see no hard evidence or facts to prove the existence of God in Aquinas's claims. I need to see evidence and facts before I'll completely believe something. So even though you can't really disprove the existence of God I still choose not to believe. I like to compare it to things like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Even though people claim they exist I'm not just going to take their word for it, I have never seen either of these creatures nor have I seen any good evidence to prove their existence. So even though their existence cannot really be disproved I choose not to believe in them until someone presents me with some good evidence.
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Old 30-07-2004, 11:12 AM   Officer #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick
I wouldn't call them Aquinas's "proofs" because the word proof implies that you have facts and hard evidence, which you clearly don't have. I'd say they're more like Aquinas's speculations, because I see no hard evidence or facts to prove the existence of God in Aquinas's claims. I need to see evidence and facts before I'll completely believe something. So even though you can't really disprove the existence of God I still choose not to believe. I like to compare it to things like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Even though people claim they exist I'm not just going to take their word for it, I have never seen either of these creatures nor have I seen any good evidence to prove their existence. So even though their existence cannot really be disproved I choose not to believe in them until someone presents me with some good evidence.
Spoken like a true logical positivist :P. The one thing that the theistic philosophers Alvin Platinga and Richard Swinburne agree upon, is that it is not just the proofs that Aquinas proffer, but rather all the circumstantial evidence - not physical evidence, mind you - that all these so-called 'speculative' proofs offer. With all these possible evidences taken into account - what with design or morality or what have you - they all combine into one singular proof that can only lead to one plausible answer - that God does exist.

Of course, one with physical evidence... one can only theorize about so many things - such as electrons. You cannot experience electrons for yourself, but for the most part, can witness its effect in nature. And that is more or less an indirect and circumstantial piece of evidence, not a direct, physical form which you, Nick, so dearly wish to have.

If it is something that one can understand with the five senses, then such evidence cannot necessarily be given. Empirically speaking, it is almost impossible to truly prove the existence of God. However, one must therefore take a step into conjectural reasoning, and read the arguments for oneself. It is not just the cosmological argument, or the teleological argument, or the argument from design, or from morality, or consciousness, or miracles, but rather the combined efforts of argumentation of all the previously mentioned.
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