Haudie retakes Aristotelian metaphysics through a Christian interpretation to

Haudie
Costa Bowens

Professor
James Moore

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Introduction
to Philosophy

December
3rd, 2017

Is There a God?

Thinking about God has always been
a challenge for Philosophy. Many were those who made God the object of their
thoughts, but few managed to deal with God rationally with the depth of Thomas
Aquinas. One of the central problems of philosophy was to answer questions
about God, whether He exists or not, while the main motivation of the sacred
doctrine is to convey the knowledge of God. The Summa Theologiae, by Aquinas, retakes
Aristotelian metaphysics through a Christian interpretation to be able to base
the evidence for the existence of God. In this work, I will try to present
Aquinas understanding of the essence of God, showing how well he understands
and articulates, the five ways to prove the existence of God, combining
Aristotle’s philosophy with Catholic doctrine, proving the existing of God and
forever uniting faith and reason.

Reason and faith could finally be
harmonized, even though they are distinct, regards the truths that can possibly
be achieved. Metaphysics is a philosophical investigation responsible for the
study of existence. It is considered a fundamental vision of the world. “Like
Aristotle, Aquinas views relation as a mode of being distinguished from the
substance, yet also characteristic of the external things’ connectedness to the
substance” (Awad, Najeeb).

Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian of church history, had the merit of
gathering five ways to explain the concepts of the existence of God.  His
definition of God, allowed to perceive the primacy of being in his philosophy
the way of being of the real, that is, of metaphysical realism. The first way of reasoning to come
to the knowledge of God’s existence is the proof of the movement. This first
argument starts from the realization that things move. Galaxies, planets,
rivers, clouds, men, molecules, everything in nature is in constant movement
and transformation. In everyday language, movement means a change of place. As
I move from one place to another, I exercise a movement. However, there is also
another sense of the word movement. Movement means any modification of beings. In
fact, there are two types of movement: the first is the movement of place given
in the locomotion that a corporeal being does, from one place to the other; the
second, is the movement of succession that occurs in the growth of a child to
its full degree of maturity. The senses easily perceive both movements. Movement
is not the succession of two states but the passage that a being makes of one
state to the other. Since it is evident to all, this experience of the senses, Aquinas,
takes it as the starting point of the first rational way to prove the existence
of God. Everything moves, everything changes, everything goes from one state to
another, not only in the sense of local movement but of substantial change, as
in the generation of new substances (wood can become coal). And as a
quantitative variation, both in the material order and in the spiritual order
(greater weight, more grace). Thus, if what moves is also moved, it is necessary
by another, and this by another still. Now you cannot continue to infinity,
because in this case there would be no first engine, therefore no other
engines, because the second engines only move by the motion of another engine.

The first engine – God – is pure act, subsisting existence, only the one who
produces the existence of it can communicate to perfection, and it can only
have its own effect “to make existence” who existence is. Therefore,
the first moving property is its existence: GOD.

The second path is similar to the
first. One observes in nature an order according to a relation of cause and
effect. Moreover, it is not based on the change and passivity of beings, but on
the dependence and causality that exist in their activities. The similarity
between the first and the second route is apparent since both lead us to the
necessity of an initial cause. However, we have previously considered the
existence and the need of a driving cause, and now we will consider the requirement
of an efficient cause. The man with the pool cue is the cause; the ball that goes
into the pocket, the effect. Observing creation, we notice in sensible things a
relation of causes. In this way, one cannot find a being that is its efficient
cause. Being the cause prior to the effect, it would be absurd to consider a
creature that was its efficient cause, since it would be prior to yourself.

Moreover, it is not possible to bring to the infinite the series of efficient
causes. That said, two possibilities are evident: that something be a cause of
itself and that the series of causes be traced back to infinity. “Aquinas’s
conception of causation is much broader than the typical contemporary
conceptions of causation. On the predominant contemporary conception causation
is seen as a one-one relation between events, with the event that is the cause
being temporally prior to the event that is the effect” (Cohoe, Caleb).

??Things can be and not be. All the
people we know and ourselves do not exist forever. Things are born, transformed
and die. In other words, we are contingent beings. The third way also makes the
way similar to the previous one. By entering more intimately into the essence
of the beings of the universe, it seeks the starting point in the entity of
these contingent beings, that is, dependent on another being necessary to exist.

The contingent is any being that exists, but could not exist, because it does
not have in itself, in its essence, the reason for its existence. For example,
a child to develop and survive needs minerals, vitamins, nutrients, etc. found
in breast milk. The child is contingent on the mother’s lap. Now the idea of
??contingent is in opposition to necessity. What is necessary is, therefore,
the existing being that in no way cannot exist, because it has in itself the
absolute reason for its existence. Containing in its very essence its
existence, it would be absurd not to exist. In the last analysis, nothing
exists except for the being that is existence subsisting, nothing has beauty,
but for the subsisting beauty, nothing has good but for the goodness that
subsists. Admitting an existing contingent uncaused, is admitting a being that
has and does not have in itself the sufficient reason for its existence: which
is contradictory. Hence, the existence of the contingent necessarily implies
the existence of its cause. This cause necessarily exists for itself or
receives it from another its existence. Now, without a being that exists by
itself, nothing exists, for something cannot come from nothing: in this way,
nothing would exist. Therefore, contingent beings demand the existence of a
being that has not begun to exist; an uncaused being, that exists by itself,
that has always existed and that is necessary to the others. This necessary
being finds in its very essence its existence that is infinite; otherwise, it
would be creating another infinite and necessary being, and this, another, and
so on. Now, the contingency series follows infinity. The fact that, everything
that can be or cannot be, is changeable. Thus, created beings have on the one
hand the essence and, on the other, as much existence as their essence can
allow, that is, they have a limitation proper to their essence. In this way, it
is necessary to affirm the existence of a being necessary by oneself and who is
the cause and necessity of all others: GOD.  

A thing or being can only attain
its degree of maximum perfection if it participates in the perfection of the
most perfect being. The fourth way comes from the degrees of perfection found
in things. Thus, in them are found in greater and lesser proportion the good,
the truth, the nobility and other similar attributes. Now, the more or less are
said of various attributes as they approach a maximum, differently; thus, the
warmest is the closest to the maximally warm. There is, therefore, something
very true, great and most noble, and consequently, to be maximally; for things
that are truly true are maximal beings, as the philosopher says. Therefore,
there is a being, the cause of being, and of goodness, and of any perfection in
everything that exists, and it is called God.

            We
have all carried our essence from eternity. The fifth way is the most
persuasive argument and at the same time more difficult to understand. If the
second route refers to the primary causality, the fifth is final. When we see
beings acting, we see that all of them act in view of an end and they all serve
one and the other. Just as the minerals serve the herbs, the herbs serve the
cattle, and the cattle serve us, so must we serve God. It is foolish to believe
that we live in a world where chance “rules” things. “There
is unquestionably order in the universe. Flames rise, bodies fall, mass and
energy are conserved—the world in which we live is governed by natural laws,
causal regularities, and intelligible order” (Hayes, Michael). The fifth way proves that we live
in a universe created and governed in a way that allows our existence and
therefore an end. Supreme government, the fifth way speaks of the question of
order and purpose that supreme intelligence governs all things, arranging them
in an organized way rationally, which shows the intention of each being. We can
conclude that the understanding of this order comes from our intellect. To
reject the conclusion that there is order in the universe is to deny the use of
the intellect as well. Now if there is no order in the universe, since matter
alone cannot be ordered, there can be no order in our brain and mind.

Therefore, one should not rely on one’s brain or mind. Matter by itself cannot
be ordered because order demands intelligence. If we observe a body and
understand what that body is, it proves that it is ordered. We understand that
a stone is a stone because there is an order that helps our intellect to
understand that it is a stone. And why should this order come from God? Because
the order must come from a computer that transcends matter since it is not
ordered and the computer should not be material since there is no computer on
the computer. And because of the non-material ordering of material, that
computer must be infinitely powerful. It can only be God.

In conclusion, Aquinas makes us
reflect, by using reason, on how easy it is to find God in everything that
exists, in the reasons for existing and in the course of existence, being He
the first mover of essence, efficient cause, necessary, perfect and of an
infinite intelligence, enabling purpose and order to all that exist.  God is not dead; He is the truth. God is in
the heart of those who believe and this no philosopher refutes. I could still
put forward other arguments showing that believing in God is not only
intellectually more reasonable and consistent with logic, but above all more
prudent with our souls, because God in His infinite wisdom did not create us to
be adrift in creation. By demonstrating that not only is it sufficient to
believe in a God who created the universe, but also that we should serve Him
and love Him as a king with infinite power and who in His infinite glory can give
us an infinite forgiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

Cohoe, Caleb. “There Must Be a First: Why Thomas Aquinas
Rejects Infinite, Essentially Ordered, Causal Series.” British Journal for the History of Philosophy, vol. 21,
no. 5, Sept. 2013, p. 838. EBSCOhost,
doi:10.1080/09608788.2013.816934.

Awad, Najeeb. “Thomas Aquinas’ Metaphysics of ‘Relation’
and ‘Participation’ and Contemporary Trinitarian Theology1 Thomas Aquinas’
Metaphysics of ‘Relation’ and ‘Participation’ and Contemporary Trinitarian
Theology.” New Blackfriars, vol. 93, no. 1048,
Nov. 2012, pp. 652-670. EBSCOhost,
doi:10.1111/j.1741-2005.2010.01362.x.

Hayes, Michael.

“Aquinas’ Fifth Way and the Possibility of Science.” Value Inquiry Book Series, vol. 289, Feb. 2016, pp.

215-226. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.gsu

 

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