On the Five Ways of Proving the Existence of God of Saint Thomas Aquinas The Five Ways of Proving that God Exists -- Summa Theologiae Ia, q. God, of course, is the ultimate designer of the universe. perfection. However, this takes something like a Platonic or Aristotelian realism and a fundamentally teleological view of nature for granted. The Fourth Way to demonstrate the existence of God is from the objective degrees of desirable qualities of things. Since bodies are constantly moving in the best way possible to achieve that end, the path must be designed. This paper is a closer examination of Aquinas’s fifth argument, sometimes called the teleological argument, first by articulating the steps of the argument, then offering some objections, a response, and a summary conclusion of his claims. The first way is motion, the second is causation and the third way is the idea that God as a necessary being. But what are the characteristics of this order? For change to occur in nature, the form of the end-state of the change must in some way exist prior to the completion of the change. 3 Comments. Efficient cause: the agent that gets the cause started. Change in nature requires a Mind to look ahead and direct it. Now those things are said to be self-evident to us the knowledge of which is naturally implanted in us, as we can see in regard to first principles. Aquinas recognises that this final cause is in many cases contingent (i.e. All things exhibit greater or lesser degrees of perfection. Similarly to the first four ways, this argument has been largely misunderstood in modern times. That is what all men call God. This rules out the God of deism. A form can also exist in an intentional sense — that is, the form can exist in the mind of a person who thinks about it. “Our 20th- and 21st-Century Ptolemaic Epicycles”? […]. An efficient cause “pushes” while a final cause “pulls” simultaneously. In fact, Darwinian theory depends on teleology in nature. Objection 1. The order of nature points to a Mind that gives it order. An acorn is planted but it’s final cause is to become a tree. The four causes have reciprocal relations. They are: the argument from "first mover"; the argument from causation; the argument from contingency; the argument from degree; the argument from final cause or ends. When you strike a match (efficient cause), it bursts into flame (final cause). The idea of teleology find its fullest expression in Aristotle. The form of the oak tree can exist in two ways. There is something that is more being than all the rest of us. Objection 2. Again, he drew upon Aristotle, who held that each thing has … For example, consider an artifact such as a ship – the purpose of the ship resides in the mind of the ship builder(s). And if final causality is contingent, then it requires an explanation. Final cause: the end or purpose for the cause. In this thesis I conduct exegesis on the Fifth Way of St. Thomas Aquinas. An electron doesn’t know quantum mechanics, but it moves in strict accordance with quantum mechanical laws. With this in mind, let’s look at the proof from the Fifth Way. A plant knows nothing about photosynthesis, but it does it very well every day with an expertise exceeding that of the best chemist. For St. Thomas (following Aristotle), final cause is particularly important, because it provides direction to natural causes. Since the form of the final state of a process of change can’t be in the thing being changed — the acorn is not yet the oak tree — and change routinely occurs in things that have no mind to look forward to the final state, where is the form of the final state of change in nature? The simplest motion of an inanimate object — a raindrop falling to the ground — is proof of God’s existence. What’s remarkable in nature is not so much that nature follows complex patterns, but that it follows any pattern at all. From the Thomistic perspective, even the most simple natural process — a leaf falling to the ground — is proof of God’s existence. Podcast with Michael Behe: “You Can’t Deny the Data Forever”, Look: On Thanksgiving, Be Grateful for the Intelligent Design of Your Eyes. Start studying Strengths and weaknesses of Aquinas' 5th way argument. My approach is going to be to offer a paraphrase of the proof followed by some minimal commentary. When I know an oak tree, the form of that oak tree is in my mind as well as in the oak tree. Contingent and Necessary Objects. He uses the example of a saw to illustrate his point: that the wood and metal the saw is made from is to fulfill its purpose as a saw, and its shape (with sharp teeth and etc.) Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Adaptation by “natural selection” may account on some level for the fixation of a particular phenotype in a population, but it offers no explanation for the fundamental fact of teleology in nature. Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion. Posted by 5 Ways To Logically Prove The Existence of God | Delightful Oak on 11/13/2013 at 12:52 am, […] Thomas Aquinas The Fifth Way (thelycaeum) This argument is about final cause. Therefore the existence of Godis self-evident. The formal cause of a statue is the shape of the statue. The scriptures of each of the major classically theistic religions contain language that suggests that there is evidence of divine design in the world. Cold weather causes water to freeze, not boil. Chance by itself can’t happen — it is, by definition, the accidental conjunction of teleological processes. Fifth Way The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. The elegant intricate complexity of cellular metabolism is certainly a manifestation of God’s glory — the beauty of biological processes is breath-taking. Your homework.... 'Aquinas' 5th Way is convincing enough to allow us to accept that there is probably a God'. Posted 11/18/2012 by Brady in Causality, Cosmology, Medieval philosophy. Cause and effect are apparent in the universe. But, it is obviously not due to our providence; for example, acorns that regularly bring about oak trees do so without the aid of man. The teleological argument is the Fifth Way of Aquinas, and is laid out like this: P1. “Resolution Revolution”: Intelligent Design, Now at the Atomic Level, Matti Leisola: Michael Behe “Opened My Eyes”, Gonzalez Extends “Privileged Planet” Arguments, A Disappointing Decade for Human Evolution. Aquinas’s fifth and final way to demonstrate God’s existence is an argument from final causes, or ends, in nature (see teleology). Aquinas' 5th way is the way of Teleology. The Argument from Causality. Change ), Equivocation: an airtight argument for nine-tailed cats, some common objections to the classical cosmological argument, 5 Ways To Logically Prove The Existence of God | Delightful Oak, William Paley: the watchmaker analogy, a modern teleological argument | thelycaeum, Definitions of sex, naturalism and the marriage debate | thelycaeum. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Actually, atheists can’t explain chance either. D That is, in fact, how I know it. Most things with a final cause have no intelligence, like rain, a seed, a ship, a saw. The fall of the leaf is specified prior to the fall — leaves fall to the ground, rather than doing any of countless other things a natural object might do (like burst into flame or grow a tail). Things that lack knowledge cannot achieve anything unless directed by a thing with knowledge. Of Aquinas’ teleological arguments, the most famous is the Fifth Way in his Summa Theologiae.There he sets out two primary theses. That this natural order points to God is obvious. Aquinas asserts that the form of the final state — the telos or final cause — must therefore be in the Mind of a Superintelligence that directs natural change. This Way is sometimes referred to as the modal cosmological … Yet the end must be realized, in some real sense, for final cause to be a cause. Aquinas: Five Ways to Prove that God exists -- The Arguments. Everything that occurs … It makes no sense to speak of “cause from” unless we also speak of “cause to.” Causes have beginnings and ends. Some things are hotter than other things, fire is the most hot thing and it causes all the other things to be hot. What exists is the form of the oak tree. The foresight inherent in teleology is in God’s Mind, and it is via His manifest foresight in teleology that we see Him at work all around us. It is the consistent directedness of change in nature that points to God. In order for qualities to be objective rather than subjective, degrees of quality must be relative to a fixed point of referencethat is the unchanging maximum, or highest, quality possible, i.e. Aquinas understands specification in an Aristotelian sense: as final cause (teleology). Thomas Aquinas was a Catholic priest, philosopher and theologian who lived from c.1225-1274. Aquinas’ fifth way for demonstrating the existence of God shows a confidence in its argument that is not generally shared by the contemporary reader. I argue that the Fifth Way revolves There must therefore exist a supreme perfection that all imperfect beings approach yet fall short of. (See also Aquinas' other discussions of God's existence and his Natural Theology). Formal cause: the structure of the system that is caused. ( Log Out /  The God of the Fifth Way is no watchmaker who winds up the world and walks away. it could be otherwise to what it is). Thomas says that the final cause of an object could be contingent (it could be something different than what it is) but the final cause of things is purposeful. Pure chance, without a framework of regularity, is unintelligible. What do you think? St. Thomas Aquinas: The Existence of God can be proved in five ways. Thomas says that the final cause of an object could be contingent (it could be something different than what it is) but the final cause of things is purposeful. The order of nature points to a Mind that gives it order. This is a straw man because the argument rests on final causality rather than complexity – and according to Aristotle or Aquinas, even the simplest natural substance possesses a final cause. Aquinas expands the first of these – God as the "unmoved mover" – in his Summa Contra Gentiles. The Universe has order, purpose and regularity; P2. Editor’s note: See also, “Introducing Aquinas’ Five Ways,” by Michael Egnor. But the force of Maritain’s reasoning for the need for an intelligent director to an end applies even if no universal laws of nature exist and every conceivable agent has a unique end. We could not take a breath unless our lungs and nerves worked consistently, and unless oxygen had the chemical properties that it has. Without teleology, “chance and necessity” would be all chance and no necessity, and therefore no evolution. It’s not that the mutt knows Shakespeare that’s remarkable; it’s remarkable that he can talk at all. 3. Final cause is the essential principle by which causes in nature happen. The Fifth Way is often called the proof from Final Cause, or the Teleological proof. I begin by showing the historical and textual context of the argument, and proceed by providing my own translation and careful analysis. In modern terms, natural and non-intelligent bodies behave in regular patterns, according to natural laws. Thomas Aquinas: the Fifth Way ... Thomas Aquinas The Fourth Way (thelycaeum) This is the argument by degree. But, again, let’s put this in modern terms. In nature, final causes and formal causes often overlap. AQUINAS' FIFTH WAY. But the proof of His existence is in every movement in nature — in every detail of cellular metabolism, of course, but also in every raindrop and in every blown grain of dust. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God. Something had to plan the cause. It can be translated in English as follows: The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. The final cause of a statue is the purpose in the mind of the sculptor — to use the statue to decorate a garden, for example. For St. Thomas, it is the pull of final cause that is fundamental to the regularity of nature. A car accident may be by chance, but it necessarily occurs in a matrix of purpose and teleology — the cars move in accordance with laws of physics, the road was constructed according to plans, the cars are driven purposefully by drivers, etc. I'm interested in starting a discussion around Thomas Aquinas's "Fifth Way" proof for the existence of God. In living things, ID theorists describe this order as specified complexity. And the natural order is the framework for everyday life. Teleology is foresight, the ability of a natural process to proceed to an end not yet realized. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Thomas Aquinas thought the latter was a better argument than the former, and in his Summa Theologiae, offered five so-called proofs for God’s existence. The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We have become so accustomed to it that we fail to notice how remarkable it is. For example, the rain that falls waters the plants. Remember that Aristotle describes the final cause as the “cause of causes”. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. In Aquinas’s system, God is that paramount perfection. ( Log Out /  So you can see that in the Thomistic Fifth Way, it is the specification of change, not its complexity, that is at the heart of the matter. 2, a. If natural causes were not consistent and mostly directed, there would be no consistency to evolution at all. Aquinas argues that these beings are endowed with a purpose (i.e. ( Log Out /  There can be no chance unless there is a system of regularity in which chance can occur. Aquinas’ fifth way for demonstrating the existence of God shows a confidence in its argument that is not generally shared by the contemporary reader. For more on Thomas Aquinas, intelligent design, and evolution, see the website Aquinas.Design. It’s reminiscent of the quip about a dog that can recite Shakespeare. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. The evidence for a Designer is as clear in the most simple inanimate process as it is in the most complex living organism. Photo: An oak tree, by Abrget47j [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Aquinas’ Fifth Way is the proof of God’s existence that is easiest to grasp in everyday life. I'll end by asking the forum to provide objections. The material cause of a statue is the block of marble from which it is carved. But what is the best explanation? Final cause is fundamental to Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics. A rock knows nothing of Newton’s law of gravity, but it falls in strict accordance with Newton’s law. From the perspective of the Fifth Way, necessity permeates nature. For example, the rain that falls waters the plants. The Fifth Way – Argument from Governance or Order. Explanations, Analyses and Assessments of the Five Ways The Five Ways in ContextThe First WayThe Second WayThe Third WayThe Fourth… The only other option is providence. follow likewise. Complexity (or simplicity) of the change is irrelevant. Aquinas notes that the final cause of an acorn is in some sense in the acorn itself: that is, in order for an acorn to reliably grow into an oak tree, the form of the oak tree must have some sort of existence while the acorn is still an acorn. This obvious order is the substrate for all natural science — after all, without natural order, scientific study of nature would be an exercise in futility. Atheists, with much handwaving and dubious science, claim to explain biological complexity by Darwinian stories. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. It can exist in an object as a substantial form — that is, the form can exist in the oak tree itself. Why doesn’t the rain spray out into the heavens and turn into a vapor? A process of change can’t point to an end unless the end pre-exists in some sense. Hello Year 12! In St. Thomas’ terms, natural bodies “act for an end.”. 2. This is the way forms ordinarily exist in objects. We moderns tend to ignore final causes—we think in terms of cause as a “push” — efficient cause, rather than cause that “pulls” — final cause. Aquinas’ Fourth Way is different from his other Ways, and is probably the most difficult for us modern folks to understand. Final cause is the cause of causes. He is considered to be one of the greatest theologians in the Church’s history. 4. This suggests that there is a being that directs all things. For Aquinas, it is the specification, rather than the complexity, that is at the heart of the Fifth Way. Thomas Aquinas The Fifth Way (thelycaeum) This argument is about final cause. St. Thomas notes that causes in nature are more or less consistent. All natural occurrences show evidence of design. Acorns become oaks, but oaks don’t become acorns. “Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.” -Thomas Aquinas […], Posted by William Paley: the watchmaker analogy, a modern teleological argument | thelycaeum on 04/26/2014 at 7:53 pm, […] may note the difference between Aquinas’ fifth way and Paley’s analogy. Material cause and formal cause work together, in the sense that form provides structure to matter. i, 1,3), "the knowledge of God is naturally implanted in all." Efficient causation is incomprehensible without final cause: regular cause-and-effect in nature is directional, in the sense that cause is consistently from one specific state to another specific state. The Quinque viæ are five logical arguments for the existence of God summarized by the 13th-century Catholic philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas in his book Summa Theologica. Both “chance” and “necessity” point to God. The First Way: Argument from Motion. A common strawman goes like this: Aquinas’ argument moves from complexity in nature to the inference that a really smart being is the designer, but evolution by natural selection refutes this claim. Our senses prove that some things are in motion. When everyone uses the same reference point of perfection, degrees of perfection are consistent and not subjective. This obvious order is the substrate for all natural science — after all, without natural order, scientific study of nature would be an exercise in futility. Thomas says that the best explanation is that there is an intelligence which directs these objects towards a goal. The complexity of … The efficient cause of a statue is the sculptor. ( Log Out /  Further, those things are said to be self-evident which are known as soon as the terms are known, which the Philosopher (1 Poster. 3. 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