Thomas Aquinas is one of the famous personalities of the medieval period. One of his famous works Summa Theologiae gives an account of eternal law, divine law, human positive law and the law of nature in order to explain the meaning of law . Aquinas considered eternal law as the wisdom of God who administers the actions and movements of the created cosmos. The following is an article analysis for Article 3 of Question 2 in the part I section of the book “Summa Theologiae”. In this article, Aquinas quotes an objection that God does not exist in nature. He describes that if one of the two infinites exists in nature, the other would see complete destruction. The term God refers to infinite goodness, thereby stating that if God exists, there would be no evil . However, God does not exist and that is the reason for the existence of evil in the world.
In the second objection, Aquinas states that everything in the world accounts for other principles that God does not exist. All natural things reduce to a sole principle of nature and all voluntary things reduce to the principle of a solo principle called human will. On the contrary, Aquinas proves the existence of God in five ways, namely, motion, efficient cause, possibility and necessity, gradation and governance . The first way argues about motion. It is certain that some of the things on the world possess motion. There is a force that puts the things in motion to reduce something from potentiality to reality, except something, which is in a state of actuality. Aquinas quotes the example of fire and wood to explain this scenario.
Fire makes wood, which is potentially hot to something that is actually hot. It is impossible for the same object to be in potentiality and actuality at the same time. There is a certain force that puts the objects in motion, but the list is not infinite as there is a first mover who is the God. Aquinas derived the second way from the nature of efficient cause. The world consists of an order of efficient causes. There is no case in which a thing is an efficient cause of itself, because for a thing to be a cause of itself, it should exist prior in the nature, which is impossible. The order of the efficient causes is that the first cause is the cause of its immediate cause, followed by the immediate cause, which is the cause for the ultimate cause . Without the first efficient cause, there is neither an immediate cause nor the ultimate cause. Hence, the name of the first efficient cause is God.
Aquinas takes the third way to prove the existence of God from the “possibility and necessity” . Things exist in nature in a positive way. There are equal chances for the things to exist in nature as there are chances for the things not to exist in nature. To prove the existence of things, there are equal chances that at one point of time, everything does not exist simultaneously. If such a hypothesis was true, even now, nothing would exist as the thing that exists in the world is a result of something already existing. Aquinas believes that all things do not exist at the same time and there must be something that is necessary for the existence of other things. Even though a certain thing is necessary, there is something that caused the necessity. It is impossible to assume that the list is infinite because each thing has a necessity to exist depending upon the necessity of another thing . Aquinas says that the existence of a being capable to have its own necessity and causing necessity in others is God.
Aquinas takes the fourth way in proving the existence of God from the gradation found in things. Human beings exist of different types. While some are good, others are bad. While some are true, others are noble. There is a prediction of more and less of different things. There are different ways to resemble things. A thing might be hotter but according to the resemblance, one might call it the hottest. There is something that is the best, truest, and greatest in truth. The maximum in any genus is the cause of all other things . For example, fire is the maximum heat, which is the basic cause of all the hot things that exist in nature. Hence, Aquinas argues that there must also be a God who is superior to all the things and the fundamental cause of their perfection, wellbeing and goodness.
Aquinas takes the fifth way to prove the existence of God from the “governance of the world” . The natural bodies of the world act for end as they lack intelligence. It is evident from the acts of the natural bodies, which always or near always acts in the same way to achieve the best result, thereby proving that the natural things achieve their end in a designed way rather than fortuitously. The natural things that lack intelligence cannot move towards the goal of obtaining their end without a force of knowledge and intelligence. It resembles the example of an arrow shot to its mark by the archer. Thus, Aquinas states that God is the intelligent being who directs the natural things to their end in an organized way and not a fortuitous way .
As a reply to the first objection, Aquinas describes the sayings of Augustine. God is omnipotent and he is the highest good who does not allow the existence of evil in the world. It is a part of the infinite goodness of God to allow the presence of evil and bring the good out of it . On the other hand, as a reply to the second objection, Aquinas argues that God is a higher agent that tracks the actions of nature and drives it towards a determinate end. Also, voluntary actions performed by humans are under the control of God as he is capable to change and replace those actions. For anything to change in nature, it is important to trace to a self-necessary and immovable principle, which is the God . Hence, for all the above reasons, Aquinas states that God exists in nature and is the omnipotent controller of the things that exist in the world.
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