Friday, February 6, 2015


All the ways to prove God is are five,
Way the first is to see him alive,
If he yells, shouts, or screams,
That’s three more, so it seems,
And the last one’s too hard to derive.

Note: Aquinas's proofs of God’s existence are known as the Five Ways.  The first way is the argument from motion: there is motion; everything in motion cannot move itself and must be put in motion by another; the sequence of causes of motion cannot be infinite; so there must be a first cause of motion, an unmoved mover, namely God.  The second way, similar to the first, is the argument from the nature of the efficient cause: some things have efficient causes; nothing (finite) can be the efficient cause of itself, and so much be efficiently caused by another; the sequence of efficient causes cannot be infinite; so there must be a first efficient cause, namely God.  The third way is taken from possibility and necessity: suppose all existing beings were contingent (things such that it is possible for them to be and possible for them not to be); there would then be a possible time at which none of these beings existed; but then nothing would ever have existed, because something can be caused to exist only by something that already exists; but some things exist; therefore, not all existing beings are contingent, and at least one of them is necessary; all necessary things have their necessity from another or from themselves; no sequence of necessary causes is infinite; so there must be one necessary thing that has its necessity from itself, and that is God.  The fourth way is the argument from the degrees to be found in things: there are beings that have more or less perfection (goodness, truth, and so on); but “more” and “less” are predicated of things only insofar as they resemble, closely or not, a maximum; so there must be something that is maximally perfect, namely God.  The fifth way is from the governance of things: unintelligent natural bodies act almost always to obtain the best result; so they act for the sake of an end; but the only way for an unintelligent body to act for the sake of an end is for it to be directed to that end by an intelligent guiding cause; so there must be a first providential cause of the activities of all unintelligent natural bodies, namely God.  I’m just poking a little fun at these arguments, which have been very influential.

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