Sunday, February 28, 2010

The cosmological argument for the existence of God


Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274) wrote these words about the existence of God. Philosophers of religion call it the cosmological argument for the existence of God. You may want to read it a few times to grasp some of its content.

"The existence of God can be proved in five ways. The first and most obvious proof is the argument from change. It is clearly the case that some things in this world are in the process of changing. Now everything that is in the process of being changed is changed by something else, since nothing is changed unless it is potentially that towards which it being changed, whereas that which changes is actual. To change something is nothing else than to bring it from potentiality to actuality, and a thing can be brought from potentiality to actuality only by something which is actual.

Thus a fire, which is actually hot, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, thus changing and altering it. Now it is impossible for the same things to be both actual and potential in the same respect, although it may be so in different respects. What is actually hot cannot at the same time be potentially hot, although it is potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that, in the same manner and in the same way, anything should be both the one which effects change and the one that is changed, so that it should change itself.

Whatever is changed must therefore be changed by something else. If, then, whatever is changing it is itself changed, this also must be changed by something else, and this in turn by something else again. But this cannot go on forever, since there would then be no first cause to this process of change, and consequently no other agent of change, because secondary things which change cannot change unless they are changed by a first cause, in the same way as a stick cannot move unless it is moved by the hand. We are therefore bound to arrive at a first cause of change which is not changed by anything, and everyone understands that this is God. " (cited in McGrath, 2001: 247-248)

Ok, breathe!

William Paley (1743-1805) argued about the existence of God, using what is referred to as the teleological argument for the existence of God. He writes about the biological nature of the human heart, saying, "It is evident that it must require the interposition of valves-that the success indeed of its action must depend upon these; for when any one of its cavities contracts, the necessary tendency of the force will be to drive the enclosed blood not only into the mouth of the artery where it ought to go, but also back again into the mouth of the vein from which it flowed" (cited in McGrath, 2001: 252).

Using these kind of biological examples, Paley argues strongly about the existence of a God. This kind of natural theology definitely flies in the face of the evolution argument.

God exists. He created you. He loves you. He wants you to trust in Jesus as your Saviour.

4 comments:

  1. Thoughts on creation/evolution/big bang etc? A massive subject, but here's a few things -

    1. I do not believe that the universe was created over 6 x 24 hour days between 6000 - 10000 years ago, because there is far too much evidence from many areas of science that shows it to be billions of years old. However many Christians are fairly insistent that a literal belief in the Genesis account is vital to being a 'true' Christian.
    2. There is plenty of evidence that life evolved over billions of years and that we are products of that process. Which creates a problem as to who were the first humans, and where do Adam and Eve fit into that. Because without them, you have no original sin.
    3. This process of the beginning of the universe, followed by the formation of life and it's subsequent evolution, started at some point billions of years ago. As to what started it, I am not sure. Yes, I believe that it is possible that a creator God started the process. But if it is possible that God has always existed, why is it not possible that matter and energy have not always existed, and at some point combined to create the big bang?
    4. Even if a creator God does exist, the chance that He (and I use that term out of respect for Christian tradition) has any interest in us is highly unlikely. We are the human inhabitants of a speck of dust, revolving around a tiny star which is one of hundreds of billions in an insignificant galaxy, which is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. Yet we believe ourselves to be the most important part of the universe (in the eyes of the creator). It seems to be far more likely that those human inhabitants made up their own image of a creator in order to try and make some sense of their existence, with their ideas evolving into the various religions that are with us today.

    I think that will do for now - this is obviously a massive subject, much of which is well beyond my comprehension.

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  2. Interesting thoughts Jack. Obviously some points I don't agree with, but that's fine. I'm not a literal six day creation believer, nor a billion years believer, I'm either. I believe God created it, and I sit with that, not really knowing whether it be six days, billions of years, etc.

    I don't think because of the size of the creation that an intelligent designer would then not take an interest in the people of the Lord's creation. I believe in both the transcedence of God and the imminence of God - that this God can be close to us. But you know full well I can't prove that, and merely have to say that I believe in this through faith, and through my experience...

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  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urj4K1blY3w&feature=player_embedded

    have a look at this and you will understand why Thomas Aquinas' explanation of GOD does not stand.

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  4. The question of whether God created in six days or over billions of years is not a simple matter of deciding whether the account in Genesis is literal or figurative. The issue is that Moses records God writing this in stone, not once but twice! "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day." Exodus 20:11, 12 "Then the Lord said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.""
    Ex 24:12 "And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written. Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets." Ex 32:15-16
    Our problem is that, if God didn't create in six days, yet He has the audacity to write that He did, then God is a liar.
    Our salvation from sin is dependent on a God who cannot lie, as Paul wrote, "Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior." Titus 1:1-3 so belief in creation over evolution is actually more fundamental to Christian doctrine that many would have us believe.

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