This is the final installment in a series of posts where I’ve been attempting to explain some of the arguments for classical theism. The reason for this philosophical foray is because it’s the most logically consistent argument for God of any I’ve ever seen, and yet so few seem to understand it, including some Christians. But, as I said before, once you do see it you’ll also see how solid our foundation is for belief in God.
It should be noted that Aquinas taught these arguments to his students as an introduction to theology. He wanted to give them a philosophical foundation that would undergird their understanding of God. So, again, this argument is not making a claim for a specific “God.” That’s a different argument. In fact, most of the major world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.) hold to these classic tenets. Their foundations go back over 2,500 years. This series of arguments is specifically making the logical deduction for a Necessary Being, or Prime Mover, which we theists call “God,” without which nothing at all would exist at this particular moment.
There are more of these classical arguments but I’ll leave them for now. However, before I finish here, I want to answer a possible question one might have after reading these posts. In parts two and three, I gave a rather technical explanation of the attributes for God when we consider that He is “Subsistent Existence Itself.” Here’s the list (you can go to the posts for explanations). A “Prime Mover” would logically necessitate some of the following characteristics:
- Pure Act (fully actualized)
- Immutable (unchangeable)
- Eternal (transcending time)
- Immaterial and incorporeal (transcending space)
- Simple (no composite parts)
- Omniscience (all knowing)
- Omnipotent (all powerful)
- Perfect (lacking nothing)
These are only some of the requirement for a Prime Mover, or God, but it will have to suffice for now. I may need to clear up some possible confusion though. You’ll notice that we’re saying God is simple, meaning He has no composite parts, as David Bentley Hart explained in an interview with Robert Kuhn:
“God is not dependent on other things which would include things that would be ingredient to His nature if He were composite. It would create a principle of unity, which would be a higher ontological principle than God Himself then, because whatever allows for the disparate unity between disparate things is itself a more encompassing reality. But saying God is “simple” doesn’t mean that He lacks something. Classical affirmation is that simplicity is a state of absolute plenitude in which everything is more virtually or more eminently contained…more along the lines of an infinite act of consciousness. When we are saying that God is simple we are saying that God is capable of all, of everything.” (From video interview, “The Being of God.”)
But then you might ask, if God is simple, how can He have what looks like parts from the list above? Doesn’t this mean He’s composite, therefore, not Pure Act? No, not necessarily.
First, remember these attributes are deduced from one simple principle–Subsistent Existence Itself. Thus, when we assert various attributes of God, it must be said that each of these attributes in God correspond to the same principle. The reason they diversify this way is because WE are not simple, and we must divide attributes into analogous concepts in order to grasp them. Think of it like a prism of light. Without the prism through which light is refracted it would merely be whiteness (from Classical Theist, “An Argument for the Existence of God“):
If you would like to dig further into the subject, I would recommend you go to the following sites and/or books. It is worth learning if you want to rightly understand the classical theist arguments (I have yet to hear a skeptic rightly explain these arguments.)
- A Defense of Classical Theology (video playlist, from Mathoma, a former atheist)
- An Argument for the Existence of God (video, Classical Theist)
- The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss (book, David Bentley Hart)
- Five Proofs of the Existence of God (book, Ed Feser)
Summarizing, we can show the existence of God in our everyday experience by simple logical deduction at this very moment (and every other moment). It has nothing to do with time, whether the universe is eternal, or quantum vacuums, inflation, but on things “ordered essentially” (versus “ordered accidently”). If we don’t get this distinction we miss the whole point (Ed Feser has a good discussion on this distinction here).
Look at it this way: Einstein pointed out that time is an illusion. All we actually have in reality is what Aquinas called the “here and now.” Furthermore, we can deduce God’s invisible attributes as I have shown. Therefore, the following Scripture rings true:
20 Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse.
21 Throughout human history the fingerprints of God were upon them, yet they refused to honor him as God or even be thankful for his kindness. Instead, they entertained corrupt and foolish thoughts about what God was like. This left them with nothing but misguided hearts, steeped in moral darkness. (Rom.1:20-21 TPT)
We’re all without excuse about the question of “God,” unless, of course, you want to throw out logic, reason, and empirical observation.