I have been reading a lot lately about predestination vs. free will, and it has taken me back to my semi-philosophical college days. Yes for a while I actually thought about majoring in philosophy but ultimately decided that philosophers think too much and act too little, so I didn’t. That being said I still LOVE philosophy in small doses. One of my favorite subjects is that of God, namely the existence of God. A noted philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote several arguments in Summa Theologica for the existence of God and in this blog post I want to discuss one of them.
Thomas Aquinas asserted that everything we can observe in science and in nature has a cause. Ie: Thunderstorms are caused by water evaporating from the earth and gathering into clouds, then re-condensing and falling into earth. Or the ball hit the wall because I threw said ball at said wall. So every thing in life has a cause right? Aquinas argued that you could trace these causes back to the beginning of time until there was a first cause, and the first cause was God. God moved which caused the creation of the world, which then led to many other causes, a chain reaction if you will.
The major argument against this argument is “What caused God?”. To this the answer is simply “God existed forever”. To which the immediate rebuttal is “If nothing ‘caused’ God, then why does there need to be a cause for anything else?” or “If God has been around forever why can’t anything else have been around forever?”
My college philosophy professor would assert that this (above) argument makes the “First cause” argument void and to a certain extent I would agree with him (only on the idea that the argument is logical in that it can be observed in nature, however I believe that God did create the universe and everything in it). I would say that per the laws of science matter can neither be destroyed nor created, it is simply changed and that would point to matter being around for eternity…
For life, life had to have a cause there is no other possible explanation for it. It is the one question that has plagued evolution scientists since Darwin. The complexities of a single cell organism has been compared to that of a Boeing 747, and for matter to “mystically” all come together at the right time in the right place, in the right order of chemicals is very very improbable if not impossible. It is something that as not been replicated in a lab, it is indeed a profound mystery for which scientist don’t really have an answer.
One outspoken atheist Charles Dawkins, put forward the idea that life was seeded on earth by aliens. The obvious question becomes “what caused the aliens?” in which case you simply come back to square one of the original argument.
So I don’t think Thomas’s argument was as weak as initially assumed I just think that if the argument is focused, namely on life, it becomes much more potent and harder to refute.
I’m no theologian or great philosopher, but I do like to ponder these questions, because I think it is good for Christians to challenge their faith as to make it stronger.