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Philosophy of Religion

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Autumn Records

Philosophy 201

M/W 10-11

September 23, 2013

When Thomas Aquinas died at the end of the 12th century he left the world with an unfinished book that philosophers still reference today know as the Summa Theologica. The Summa contained five arguments formulated by Aquinas that he claimed to prove the existence of God. Aquinas's arguments are still being examined almost eight hundred years after his death and with good reason; all five arguments are significant in the understanding the philosophy of religion. To explain and pick apart all five arguments would take a prolonged amount of time so I will focus on just the first of the five.

Aquinas's first argument focuses on the concept of motion. Think of a salmon, it starts off as an egg and after it hatches it never stops moving until it dies. What makes the egg hatch and sets the fry in motion though? For an object to be set in motion it has to be acted on by a force from some outside source other than itself. In the terms of cause and effect the fish hatching is the effect but what is the cause? Since we know it to be true that effects are preceded by causes then that must mean that something or someone at some point in time "caused" the first effect. Therefore, some supernatural being or entity (God) must exist.

A weakness of this argument is that it claims that every effect that was caused had to be caused by a single entity but if further thought is applied one can conclude that Aquinas's argument only suggests that there is at least one rather then just one causer of the effects. To better explain this think back to the salmon. Every salmon is born with the same purpose to spawn and die, however all salmon do not come from the same place and are not all "caused" by the same thing. Some Salmon are born in hatcheries while others are completely wild. This relates to one of the significant weaknesses of Aquinas's argument, the assumption that one single entity or being of some sort caused all the effects when rather there could be any number of causes for all of the effects. All of the effects of this world didn't necessarily come from one single cause.

Therefore, God's existence cannot be absolutely proven by Aquinas's first argument alone due to the flaw I pointed out and numerous others. I do not disagree with Aquinas on the existence of God. However, his first argument's weaknesses prevent it from being any sort indicator that there really is a God. All of Aquinas's arguments are obviously outdated and advances in science and physics have not done them any justice. Though Aquinas's first argument falls short of proving the existence of God it does not mean that its is completely irrelevant. Surely Aquinas's name would not still

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