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Andrew Ticzon


HUM 207: History of Ideas
December 3, 2014

Describe the approach of St. Thomas Aquinas demonstrating the existence of God.
The approach of St. Thomas Aquinas was cosmological as it dealt with the laws and elements of the
universe, especially those of space, time, and causation. It was also scientific, logical, and partly
experiential. All his examples can be related to, for it is logical that there must be an Unmoved Mover that
causes everything to move because nothing can move by itself and by experience, one knows that one
cannot move a ball by exerting force onto it; or that there is an Uncaused Cause that has caused
everything to be, similar to how Big Bang supposedly caused the universe (but one asks, what caused the
Big Bang); or by the fact that human beings have a time to exist and do not (due to decay as partly
material entities) and if non-existence is possible there must be a time when nothing existed, and thus the
things now were put into existence by something else, something necessary. This can be seen in
experience, a machine cannot exist without a human or the possibility of the machine existing was
possible because of the prior existence of a person to build it, with the case of God, he must have existed
before to make possible the existence of all things. With beauty it is only natural there must be a highest
form, for one can compare between, for example, two persons on who is more beautiful – there is a
hierarchy, or one would know when one art work seems more beautiful than the other; and lastly, it is by
science’s task there were discovered laws that govern the universe, laws in the sense that all objects exist
for a certain end, but not all things can direct themselves since not all things are intelligent beings, so
there must be some Intelligent Designer that has made all things to be this way (e.g. a watchmaker
designs a watch to achieve a certain end). In relating these arguments to human experience, St. Thomas’
demonstrations make God appear more tangible, but never completely, as recognition of his full existence
can only be done by faith.
From what you gather from the reading, how will you explain the possibility of atheism?
Atheism can be drawn from these arguments because the original Latin text is entitled Quinque Viae –
literally meaning the Five Ways. An atheist can turn the argument on its head and claim that they are not
proofs, but only 5 Ways, as proofs require tangible evidence, therefore it is still possible that God does not
exist. However, this is exactly the reason they are called “Ways” because if one were able to prove the
existence of God absolutely (i.e. using tangible evidence) then faith would therefore be unnecessary.
However, in Catholicism, that is what makes faith special – the ability to believing the fullest existence of
that which one does not see, but in believing, one will see. Any atheist then, seems to not know exactly
the topic of the God (in the Christian sense) if he or she requires tangible proofs of God’s existence.
Of the 5 ways, which one is the easiest to understand for you?
The easiest to understand among the 5 was the argument on the Unmoved Mover, Uncaused Cause,
and the Highest or Ultimate Beauty, because these can all be related to very much.
Of the 5 ways, which one is the most difficult to understand for you? Why?
The hardest to understand was the argument on necessity or possibility. This is not so much because
of a misunderstanding of the reading but a confusion of what has been learned in the past by an instructor
(not in UA&P).