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Arguments for the Existence of God & Theism

2. Theism offers a clear way to approach the relationship between faith and reason. This can be seen by considering some of the arguments for the existence of God by theists such as Saint Thomas Aquinas. Explain the idea of theism. Do you find theism to be an intellectually satisfactory solution to the issue concerning the meaning and reality of God? Why or why not? In your answer, discuss one of the main arguments for the existence of God.

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2. a. Theism offers a clear way to approach the relationship between faith and reason. This can be seen by considering some of the arguments for the existence of God by theists such as Saint Thomas Aquinas. Explain the idea of theism.

BACKGROUND

Saint Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274) was a scholastic philosopher and Dominican whose work had an enormous influence both on the course of Christian theology and on the course of philosophy generally. Before Aquinas' work, the dominant figure in Western philosophy was Augustine, who emphasized the principles of God's sovereignty and the importance of revelation. The translation of Aristotle's works threatened this, however, because it appeared to give primacy to individuals and their own knowledge. It was impossible to either suppress or ignore Aristotle, but no one was having much success with reconciling Aristotle with traditional Church doctrine. It was Aquinas who was finally able to make Aristotle's philosophy "safe" for Christianity. According to Aquinas, both sense experience and revelation provided truths for human beings - and, because both are true, both will always agree and will never contradict. Sometimes there will be truths which can only be known through one or the other - however, at no point will even these independent truths come into conflict with one another. The recognition that empirical senses and reason could arrive at the same truths as revelation helped in the development of "natural theology," or the attempts to prove the existence of God through reference to natural facts about the world rather than through reference to scripture. http://atheism.about.com/library/glossary/western/bldef_fiveways.htm

Aquinas is particularly well known for his "Five Ways," five proofs for the existence of God, which rely upon the use of reason and empiricism rather than revelation. Five Ways is a title commonly used to designate five proofs of God, which are found in Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica. These five proofs include three versions of the cosmological argument, an argument from moral perfection, and a teleological argument. http://atheism.about.com/library/glossary/western/bldef_fiveways.htm
Theism is the belief in a divine being called God, the creator of the Universe. It was believed that the physical world could not stand on its own. It could not because it is just "stuff" that obeys blind laws. Newton's laws of motion for example; but really, any "laws" that scientists have discovered will do. Scientists discover these laws, but who created them? Since material "stuff" is raw, robotic, devoid on its own of value - theists pushed value to a spiritual world - there must be something else to give this stuff value and laws to obey. For the theist, that something else is a divine being called God http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aquinas/

b. Do you find theism to be an intellectually satisfactory solution to the issue concerning the meaning and reality of God? Why or why not? In your answer, discuss one of the main arguments for the existence of God.

This part of the assignment is straightforward. It is asking you if you think theism satisfies the issue concerning the meaning and reality of God? It will depend on your own beliefs. For me it does, mainly because the creation of matter must have a creator. The Universe and matter just do not happen. But, to assume that nothing can come from nothing or that the whole universe is contingent if its parts are contingent is to presuppose the truth of theism. To assume the opposite presupposes the atheistic conclusion. Thus, the cosmological argument (see arguments below), then, doesn't fail because it lacks perspicuity. All in all, it is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. It fails because it assumes the truth of theism (for those who do not believe). A person who does not already believe that the universe as a whole or its first finite cause is dependent on a necessary being will remain unconvinced. http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/index.html?mainframe=/apologetics/classical/ant_v2n3_thomism.html

Where do you sit with this? What do you think?

Now let's look at three arguments put forth for the existence of God (Thomas Aquinas), which you can draw on for this section of your paper.

Excerpt: Outline of the Thomistic Cosmological Argument
The evangelicals upon whom we are focusing by and large reject the so-called ontological argument for God's existence. [10] Following Aquinas (who also rejects this argument), they have espoused one form or another of what is commonly known as the cosmological argument. Although Aquinas presents Five Ways to prove God's existence, the first three have received the most attention and have had the greatest influence on contemporary evangelicals. We will accordingly focus on them as well. Each of these Ways begins with a readily observable feature (or features) of the world and tries to demonstrate therefrom the existence of God.

The First Way

The First Way is sometimes called the argument from motion or change. The feature of the world with which it begins is that every finite being changes. When ...

Solution Summary

Explains the idea of theism and if theism is an intellectually satisfactory solution to the issue concerning the meaning and reality of God, including why or why not, It includes the main arguments for the existence of God.

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