Proof of God’s existence

I’m not personally convinced but it is an interesting argument.

Courtesy of St. Thomas Aquinas:

I answer that it can be proved in five ways that God exists.

The first and plainest is the method that proceeds from the point of view of motion. It is certain and in accord with experience, that things on earth undergo change. Now, everything that is moved is moved by something; nothing, indeed, is changed, except it is changed to something which it is in potentiality. Moreover, anything moves in accordance with something actually existing; change itself, is nothing else than to bring forth something from potentiality into actuality. Now, nothing can be brought from potentiality to actual existence except through something actually existing: thus heat in action, as fire, makes fire-wood, which is hot in potentiality, to be hot actually, and through this process, changes itself. The same thing cannot at the same time be actually and potentially the same thing, but only in regard to different things. What is actually hot cannot be at the same time potentially hot, but it is possible for it at the same time to be potentially cold. It is impossible, then, that anything should be both mover and the thing moved, in regard to the same thing and in the same way, or that it should move itself. Everything, therefore, is moved by something else. If, then, that by which it is moved, is also moved, this must be moved by something still different, and this, again, by something else. But this process cannot go on to infinity because there would not be any first mover, nor, because of this fact, anything else in motion, as the succeeding things would not move except because of what is moved by the first mover, just as a stick is not moved except through what is moved from the hand. Therefore it is necessary to go back to some first mover, which is itself moved by nothing—and this all men know as God.

The second proof is from the nature of the efficient cause. We find in our experience that there is a chain of causes: nor is it found possible for anything to be the efficient cause of itself, since it would have to exist before itself, which is impossible. Nor in the case of efficient causes can the chain go back indefinitely, because in all chains of efficient causes, the first is the cause of the middle, and these of the last, whether they be one or many. If the cause is removed, the effect is removed. Hence if there is not a first cause, there will not be a last, nor a middle. But if the chain were to go back infinitely, there would be no first cause, and thus no ultimate effect, nor middle causes, which is admittedly false. Hence we must presuppose some first efficient cause—which all call God.

The third proof is taken from the natures of the merely possible and necessary. We find that certain things either may or may not exist, since they are found to come into being and be destroyed, and in consequence potentially, either existent or non-existent. But it is impossible for all things that are of this character to exist eternally, because what may not exist, at length will not. If, then, all things were merely possible (mere accidents), eventually nothing among things would exist. If this is true, even now there would be nothing, because what does not exist, does not take its beginning except through something that does exist. If then nothing existed, it would be impossible for anything to begin, and there would now be nothing existing, which is admittedly false. Hence not all things are mere accidents, but there must be one necessarily existing being. Now every necessary thing either has a cause of its necessary existence, or has not. In the case of necessary things that have a cause for their necessary existence, the chain of causes cannot go back infinitely, just as not in the case of efficient causes, as proved. Hence there must be presupposed something necessarily existing through its own nature, not having a cause elsewhere but being itself the cause of the necessary existence of other things—which all call God.

The fourth proof arises from the degrees that are found in things. For there is found a greater and a less degree of goodness, truth, nobility, and the like. But more or less are terms spoken of various things as they approach in diverse ways toward something that is the greatest, just as in the case of hotter (more hot) which approaches nearer the greatest heat. There exists therefore something that is the truest, and best, and most noble, and in consequence, the greatest being. For what are the greatest truths are the greatest beings, as is said in the Metaphysics Bk. II. 2. What moreover is the greatest in its way, in another way is the cause of all things of its own kind (or genus); thus fire, which is the greatest heat, is the cause of all heat, as is said in the same book (cf. Plato and Aristotle). Therefore there exists something that is the cause of the existence of all things and of the goodness and of every perfection whatsoever—and this we call God.

The fifth proof arises from the ordering of things for we see that some things which lack reason, such as natural bodies, are operated in accordance with a plan. It appears from this that they are operated always or the more frequently in this same way the closer they follow what is the Highest; whence it is clear that they do not arrive at the result by chance but because of a purpose. The things, moreover, that do not have intelligence do not tend toward a result unless directed by some one knowing and intelligent; just as an arrow is sent by an archer. Therefore there is something intelligent by which all natural things are arranged in accordance with a plan—and this we call God.

In response to the first objection, then, I reply what Augustine says; that since God is entirely good, He would permit evil to exist in His works only if He were so good and omnipotent that He might bring forth good even from the evil. It therefore pertains to the infinite goodness of God that he permits evil to exist and from this brings forth good.

My reply to the second objection is that since nature is ordered in accordance with some defined purpose by the direction of some superior agent, those things that spring from nature must be dependent upon God, just as upon a first cause. Likewise, what springs from a proposition must be traceable to some higher cause which is not the human reason or will, because this is changeable and defective and everything changeable and liable to non-existence is dependent upon some unchangeable first principle that is necessarily self-existent as has been shown.

Freedom in Faith–1996

                                      Freedom in Faith

 

The version of freedom given by the Bhagavad Gita is based on the idea that true freedom can only come with hard work, sacrifice and prayer.  Learning to be disciplined is one of the most important steps in freeing oneself from the bonds of attachment.  To be disciplined, one must choose understanding over action, for “pitiful are the men drawn by fruits of action”.   “Disciplined by understanding”, one can attain the freedom that is escaping from the cycle of rebirth and “reaching a place beyond decay”.  Understanding as supposed to action is only one of the things that will lead to eternal freedom and must be combined with other ways of acting.

          To make one’s thoughts sure, they must get rid of desire and become indifferent to the urges that everyone else is controlled by.  When someone has given up attraction to pleasure, they can become “a sage whose thought is sure”.  The reason destroying cravings and attachment is so important is because “brooding about sensuous objects makes attachment to them grow; from attachment desire arises, from desire anger is born”.  Therefore, relinquishing attachment not only frees the mind from its worldly bond but also prevent anger and the loss of understanding that comes with it.  An important exercise in freeing oneself from desire is to deprive oneself of food. Approaching the world without desire and with discipline leads to serenity and eventually inner peace, something that seems akin to complete freedom of the mind.

          To become a man of discipline involves self-deprivation and perhaps even more importantly, meditation and devotion to Krishna.  “Perfect joy comes to the man of discipline” because he sees and loves his self and has his mind free of attachment and full of devotion to Krishna.  People are not free because the self is not free and is still attached to objects in the world.  Fortunately there is a method outlined in the Gita that can free the self from the bonds of worldly attachment that cause so much misery and false understanding.

          Jesus chooses man’s complete freedom over his eternal happiness because he values faith over blind obedience.  The Inquisitor, however, believes that men are “like sheep” and has “vanquished freedom and have done so to make men happy”.  The inquisitor makes the argument that the church is giving men what they want and need, something that Jesus denied them when Satan tempted him. Jesus is offered miracle, mystery, and authority by which to command the faith of man but he refuses all three in order to maintain freedom of faith.  Jesus could have fed all the people in the world but then they would have followed him only for the sake of food. He could have shown himself to be the Son of God by falling from a cliff and surviving, but then man would have followed him with blind faith based on a miracle.  He could have also ruled all the kingdoms of earth but would have had to bow to Satan.

          The inquisitor contests that Jesus is only offering salvation to the few and the multitude of weak people will never find salvation in heaven. He claims that people do not understand the freedom being given them and would be much better off with bread or being unified under a leader.  The inquisitor intends to take that which the devil offered Jesus and make the church rule the world and feed the people.  He is doing this because “nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and human society than freedom”.  The inquisitor states that man, in his freedom, is not happy and still desires bread, something to worship, and a ruler.  The church aims to give man all three in return for the worship and power given to the church.

          Jesus and the Gita are similar in that both attachment great importance to the freedom of faith.  The Gita telling one to abstain from food in order to become disciplined is akin to Jesus refusing to feed all the people of the earth in order to make them stronger and free. The inquisitor, on the other hand, is more concerned with the happiness of man on earth, because only a handful will actually gain access to heaven.