Can God’s Existence Be Demonstrated?

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters. We are currently studying the doctrine of God and using the Summa Theologica as our basis, which can be read for free at newadvent.org. Tonight we’re going to discuss if the existence of God can be demonstrated. Before that, I do offer my prayer requests. First, I ask that you pray for my Christlikeness. A conversation with a friend tonight helped me bring out a lot of reasons I struggle in my life and I know now more of where I need to work. The second is for my financial situation. Some tough times are coming. Finally, I ask for prayer for a third situation in my life.

Can God’s existence be demonstrated? A number of times, atheists will ask me to demonstrate God’s existence. Well there are a number of ways this can’t be done. It can’t be done by saying “And now God will appear right before your eyes!”

It also can’t be done scientifically. Now I believe science can help us get data that can draw inferences, such as the design argument or the anthropic principle. However, the inferences we draw from those facts are those that lead us into philosophy instead.

Aquinas will say that things can be demonstrated in two ways. The first is through the cause, which is what he calls the route of propter quid. However, the problem he sees with this is that we do not know the cause when we begin our investigation. It is because of this that Aquinas will reject the Anselmian ontological argument. Contrary to what Dawkins says in “The God Delusion,” arguments for God’s existence were taken seriously in the medieval period and they were critiqued by other medieval theologians. Even if they all agreed on the conclusion, they did not think all ways of getting there were valid.

The other way is to argue from the effects to the cause. This is what is done in a number of arguments.

The universe has design.

Things that are designed have a designer.

The universe has a designer.

Or

Objective moral laws exist.

Objective moral laws need an objective moral law giver.

Therefore, an objective moral law giver exists.

This is what all of these arguments do. We look at the effects and we reason to the cause based on the arguments. When we begin the five ways, we’ll find that Aquinas does this. His favorite one is in fact the existence/essence distinction.

Note at this point we’re not even saying that God exists. Of course, Aquinas believes he does, but we are rather saying that his existence can be demonstrated and that demonstration comes about through the way of philosophical proofs.

Also, the role of faith is that one trusts the validity of the arguments. Aquinas believes that God’s existence can be proven, but it is up to the questioner to believe on the proofs that have been given. Because one presents the argument, it does not require the world fall down and repent immediately.

Tomorrow, we begin the five ways.

2 Responses to “Can God’s Existence Be Demonstrated?”

  1. Joel Gonzaga Says:

    Nick, I think I’ll be following this over the next few days.

    Note well, that as much I like Aquinas’ work, I am skeptical of the utility of the five ways. Paul Moser (from Loyola of Chicago) wrote a great article on what he calls “cognitive idolatry.” Pascal also, and I think rightly, pointed out that proofs for God’s existence do little when minds and hearts are not in the right place.

    Keep it coming though. I look foreward to reading it.

    -Jin-roh

  2. Univerze Says:

    With or without proofs, the truth is fixed..there is God..neither our doubt nor our beliefs can change that.

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