Sunday, October 7, 2012

Does Thomas Aquinas adequately prove the existence of God?

Doubting Thomas, and ye of little faith.

Jonnie Comet
December 1993

  At that time, Jesus said to his disciple Thomas, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.’ [i]  

  Thomas had insisted on seeing, feeling, and hearing proof of His continued existence. It was not enough for him to rely on his own faith when he heard from his closest and most beloved friends the acts and words of the One among them who would never have deceived anyone.  He needed empirical evidence from his own eyes and ears and hands.
  So it might have seemed with his namesake, Thomas Aquinas.  Considered by many to have established the basic theological precepts of the Catholic faith, Aquinas apparently found himself surrounded by enough non-believers that he felt compelled to take on his futile philosophical exercise.  Yet among thinking minds, I imagine the born atheist is probably more willing to accept at least the possibility than is the consciously converted unbeliever.  Using empirical data to explain the existence of God to one resolutely against the idea is like describing the concept of colour to one who has never seen.
  The underlying issue here is faith.  Faith, like true love, is blind.  Faith does not ask for proof, does not require confirmation through empirical observation.  Faith is pure, undefiled, perfect acceptance.  No, this is not a rational concept, and no cold, hard, detached scientific inquisition can diminish its worth.  Yet faith itself is crucial to continued existence in society.  For I say to you: there will never be a time when organised faith in a predominant deity will not, even in the least, hold sway over a significant proportion of the world population.
  One cannot doubt that St Thomas Aquinas believes in the existence of the benevolent God of his faith.  But does he adequately prove His existence to the non-believers?  That is a question only former non-believers can answer.  The true believer does not require proof, least of all from the empirical observations of someone else. Aquinas’ allusion to Aristotle’s ‘first mover’ principle is commendable, for it is on this point that every atheist’s argument breaks down, and that gives any argument I might wage for the existence of God that much more intellectual ammunition.  But is this argument so intellectual that I should need it?  And with whom would I presume to wage such a pointless argument?
  For all those who believe in a benevolent deity, I give you the Hindu mystic Ramakrishna’s lovely invitation, that all who worship do so with each other’s blessing, no matter what form that worship may take.  As for those who do not believe, I give you God’s admonition to those who first thought to doubt His generosity and authority:

  ‘Remember, O Man, that thou art but dust, and unto dust shalt thou return.’ [ii]

  You have nothing to lose but your salvation.

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[i]   Jesus said... believed  - John 20.29
[ii]Remember, O Man...  return’  - Genesis 3.19

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