Is God’s Existence Self-Evident

Hello and welcome back to Deeper Waters. I said that I was going to have us look at the doctrine of God and our guide as we go through that will be the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. In looking at the doctrine of God, the first question he asks is if God’s existence is self-evident (Yes. These questions were being asked before the Enlightenment). Before we get to that however, I wish to present my prayer requests. First off, I do ask that you pray for my Christlikeness. Second, I ask for your prayers for my financial situation. Finally, I ask for your prayers in a third related area in my life.

Now as we go through this, if anyone wants to follow along, newadvent.org has the Summa Theologica in a format anyone can access for free. Simply go to the upper right and click Summa. (And no, I am not Catholic.)

Thomas Aquinas answers “Yes and no.” Mainly he answers no as that if something is self-evident, it cannot be denied, but the Bible does say that the fool says in his heart, that there is no God. Since it can be denied, then he says it is not self-evident.

But he also said it is self-evident didn’t he?

Consider this sentence.

Bachelors are unmarried males.

This is self-evident because if you understand the terms, you know that it’s true. You don’t need an argument for it. In fact, if you told me you weren’t convinced and needed an argument, I don’t know what I could tell you to convince you.

These are called first principles. A classic example is the Law of Non-contradiction. In order to deny this law, you have to affirm it. It is in essence an undeniable law. If this is not true, then there is no basis for saying that anything is. Any attempts to eliminate it actually end up having the person saw off the branch of the tree he’s sitting on.

So what does this have to do with it? Aquinas argues that when a person comes to understand what is meant by the concept of God, then they will understand that the idea of existing is included within God and they will realize that it is self-evident that God exists.

Of course, there is an element of the fall in here as well. Though not mentioned by Aquinas specifically, the sinfulness of man was always on his mind. One reason for much denial today is that we are sinful. It is not that God is hiding. It is that he is not being sought. The idea of the hiddenness of God would not make sense to Aquinas.

Of course, since Aquinas has said that he does not believe the existence of God is self-evident due to our lack of understanding with God, he does not wish to leave us in that position. He wants to make sure we get to the God who is there and he will do that through philosophical argumentation. Can such be done?

Well we’ll find out tomorrow.

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