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How Catholics are the Solution to the Problem - Part II

Updated on May 29, 2012

A quick look at the problem of atheism and how Christians are partly responsible for it. Part II of III

St. Thomas Aquinas - Master Theologian & Philosopher
St. Thomas Aquinas - Master Theologian & Philosopher | Source

Aquinas' Five Proofs

Now that we know man can arrive at a knowledge of God, we must define what that knowledge is. Aquinas gives us that knowledge in his five ‘proofs’ that help us understand the nature of God in this world. The first proof is the argument from motion. Aquinas explains that in the world we live in, we understand that nothing moves without first being acted upon by something else. Aquinas argues that there must necessarily be a Prime Mover that set everything in motion (motion in the sense of change and kinetic energy). Since everything is constantly changing in some manner, there must also be something that doesn’t change in order to keep things in motion.

The second proof has to do with efficient causality, that is to say, that which brings things into being. For example, a mother and father are the efficient cause of a child; they pre-existed the baby and were, as a result, able to bring that baby into existence. Nothing can bring itself into existence because it would first have to pre-exist itself, which is ludicrous. Following this train of logic, there must be something that pre-existed everything in order to cause the existence of everything else and we refer to this being as God.[1]

Creation of Adam
Creation of Adam | Source
Source

The third proof explains how things in this world are all possible, not necessary, beings. In other words, this chair or that dog can be thought to not exist; they are not necessary beings. Since things in this world are corruptible and all dissipate at some point, existence is not part of their essence. “Therefore, if everything can not-be, then at one time there was nothing in existence”.[2] Aquinas concludes that there must be some being whose essence is to exist in order to bring and keep everything else in existence. And that is what we refer to as God.

The fourth proof refers to the gradation of things. For instance, for anything to be called ‘good’ there must be some maximum of goodness, some constant by which to measure everything. We refer to this objective benchmark as God, for he is the only source of real truth in the world. After all, if there were no objective truth, then everything would be subjective. God provides us with objective truth and goodness by which we can ‘measure’ things in this world.

The final proof is more metaphysical than the others, but is still useful to know. Aquinas explains how natural things, i.e. planetary bodies tend to always act in the same way so as to achieve their end in the best possible manner.[3] He concludes that they are designed as such by a Great Designer. These and other natural objects have no intelligence and yet are always able to fulfill their purpose. This argument is useful in simply getting the atheist to ponder about the world we live in and give an account of his worldview. How can atheism, a worldview that destroys absolute truth, goodness, knowledge, and human dignity, account for the world we all live in? These five proofs of Aquinas are meant to help define God in human terms and challenge the atheist in his beliefs.

Continues with Part III...

Do you think Aquinas' Proofs make sense?

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Here's what Dawkins has to say...

Endnotes

[1] Summa Theologica, Q.2.Art.3, pg.26

[2] Summa, Q.2.Art.3, pg.26

[3] Summa, Q.2.Art.3, pg.27

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  • baronhertzog profile image
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    baronhertzog 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

    Well yeah the picture was just meant to be a joke anyways.

    The first and second proof refer to cause and change, not physical movement. We can see from human experience that nothing happens without a cause.

    How's the third proof 'ridiculous'? All it says is that there must be something whose essence is to exist. Since we know from science that things are not everlasting, something must've been here before anything and only a being whose essence is 'to exist' can bring anything about.

    The fourth brings up subjectivism. That is, what you say is good is not necessarily what I say is good. So what the heck is goodness? God is the source of knowledge, truth, and goodness otherwise everything is subjective.

    As far as the fifth, WHY do things move the way they do? Science explains. But science explains how and that it does, but not why it is that way.

    And I know atheists...my brother is one.

  • artblack01 profile image

    artblack01 5 years ago from New Mexico

    Sorry it was so long, you asked and I had to show you everything I thought was wrong with your arguments, no offense and I hope this is helpful in understanding an atheist better.

  • artblack01 profile image

    artblack01 5 years ago from New Mexico

    Well, first off third picture down is an unoriginal statement response (and a false one at that) to the Christian version of this picture about atheists.

    This shows a general lack of understanding of general physics and if you want to convince an atheist you are right you might want to understand why an atheist believes that you are wrong and then go from there, Aquinas is arguing from ignorance which creates general assumptions.

    First, because one doesn't understand how something came to be does not conclude that what caused it was "supernatural" or "God". It simply means that it is currently unknown. However "Aquinas argues that there must necessarily be a Prime Mover that set everything in motion" That isn't necessarily true. What sets stuff in motion? Depends on what level you are referring to. Objects in nature have various levels of energy, and force self contained. An example is mass, when two objects are in space in a zero-g environment they will generally be attracted to each other and move accordingly. In order to understand "first cause" you'd also have to understand the theories involved in the Big Bang, but I have yet to see that you grasp this... the videos in my Atheism Hub will help...

    "Nothing can bring itself into existence because it would first have to pre-exist itself" This is an argument for or against God? The Irony.

    "there must be something that pre-existed everything in order to cause the existence of everything else and we refer to this being as God." That is an assumption based on arguing from ignorance, you cannot assume that because you don't know how something came to be that it was caused by a God. for example, if you didn't know what caused the rain to happen, what would you say caused it? You can't, but many of the ignorant jump to a deity as the cause.

    The Third is so ridiculous I can't even bother with it because both it's general statement and conclusion are complete assumptions.

    "The fourth proof refers to the gradation of things. For instance, for anything to be called ‘good’ there must be some maximum of goodness, some constant by which to measure everything."

    It's called cause and effect from experience and has nothing to do with any sort of benchmark nor ultimate rule maker, it has to do with people living in a society and finding a way to successfully coexist for the purpose of survival. The very reason we live in groups is to survive the dangers of the world, animals that want to eat us other humans who are competing for the same food or territory. How do you do this? Working together, not harming the person you are working with. From there new rules come about.... it's all common sense and has NOTHING to do with ANY sort of God.

    The Fifth?"He concludes that they are designed as such by a Great Designer. These and other natural objects have no intelligence and yet are always able to fulfill their purpose. This argument is useful in simply getting the atheist to ponder about the world we live in and give an account of his worldview."

    Not when you understand that the Atheists understanding of the world and world view are based on evidence, they study science, including physics....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhS8K4gFu4s

  • baronhertzog profile image
    Author

    baronhertzog 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

    What assumptions and mocking?

  • artblack01 profile image

    artblack01 5 years ago from New Mexico

    Too many assumptions and much mocking and ad hominen attacks and straw man arguments.

    No evidence to support any claim made.