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Aquinas’ 4th proof for God’s existence

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Today I sit down with the one and only Karlo Broussard to discuss Aquinas’ argument for God’s existence from degrees of being. You’re gonna love it.

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Here’s the 4th way from the Summa theologiae:

The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But “more” and “less” are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

 

 

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  1. In some ways this proof seems circular to me…the gradation of a person being higher/better/more complex than a plant in the quality of “being” only rings true IF you already presuppose a divine /supreme being who desired and created such gradations. The gradations do not exist otherwise.

    A thought experiment to demonstrate the gradations do not exist independent of a presupposition that the divine exists as well: Imagine if some natural disaster, say a disease, wipes out all humans on earth, leaving only “lower” animal and plant life. The lower forms adapt and flourish just fine, leading to some other (but non-human) form of life over thousands of years. In the case of such a disaster, the “lower” animals and plans would have turned out in the long run to be the “higher” and more adaptable form of life.

    So, we can only state that the gardener wife is “higher/better/more complex” if we suppose their is a supreme being who created her thus. Seems circular to me. Thoughts?

    • Typo in my last sentence.
      Should read “if we suppose ‘there’ is a supreme being…”

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