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Summary in 400 words or less:
Below are Aquinas’ “Five Ways” — the third being the traditional Thomistic Cosmological Argument.
The First Way: Argument from Motion
Nothing can essentially change itself (i.e., grow wings or grow gills by one’s own power). Therefore, one must be changed or created from something beyond the scope of oneself. Ultimately, this leads to a prime, or unmoved mover (God).
The Second Way: Argument from Efficient Causality, or First Cause
Nothing can create its own existence. One’s existence requires something beyond the scope of oneself. (Even the universe came from something beyond the scope of itself. Quantum physics show how things already in existence can appear to pop into existence. However, this is viewing the physics after it has been created. It should be considered that at the beginning, before physics even existed, even these things have to possess a first cause.) Ultimately, the prime Creator is God.
The Third Way: Argument from Contingency and Necessity
There are contingent beings (beings that exist because of something else) and a necessary being (a being that is necessitated by the existence of contingent beings…in other words a being that must be, or a being that cannot not be). Contingent beings…beings that are here depending on a necessary being…are here because of a necessary being (God). In other words, our existence demands that God must exist.
The Fourth Way: Argument from Degrees of Perfection
Degrees of perfection demand that there be a standard of perfection. A standard must exist before the imperfections of a standard can be known. That standard is found in the person and being of God.
The Fifth Way: Argument from Design
1. We see that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance.
2. Most natural things lack knowledge.
3. But as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer, what lacks intelligence achieves goals by being directed by something intelligence.
4. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.
Scripture for YouVersion:
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
References for further reading:
From Appeared to Blogly (Chad McIntosh): Thomistic Cosmological Arguments. This argument fell on hard times but is recently making a strong comeback. For a defense of the original argument, see Edward Feser, Aquinas (Oneworld, 2009), ch. 3. Contemporary arguments in the spirit of the Thomistic cosmological argument are: William Vallicella, A Paradigm Theory of Existence: Onto-Theology Vindicated (Kluwer, 2002). Timothy O’Connor, Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Ultimate Shape of Contingency (Blackwell, 2008). O’connor’s argument is a sort of blend of the Thomistic and Leibnizian cosmological arguments. But because the structure is largely Thomistic and the conclusion is buttressed by Leibnizian considerations, I classify his argument as Thomistic. See his “And This All Men Call God” Faith and Philosophy 21 (2004), pp. 417-435. Robert Koons, “A New Look at the Cosmological Argument” American Philosophical Quarterly 34 (1996), pp. 193-212; “Defeasible Reasoning, Special Pleading, and the Cosmological Argument” Faith and Philosophy 18/2 (2000), pp. 192-203. Koons identifies his arguments as in line with Thomistic tradition but with a distinctly modal tint (as does O’Connor’s). See also Robert Maydole, “The Modal Third Way” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 47 (2000), pp. 1-28. For an unpublished version of this paper, see his “Aquinas’ Third Way Modalized.” Peter van Inwagen, “Necessary Being: The Cosmological Argument” in Metaphysics (Westview, 2002), pp. 115-133. Joshua Rasmussen, “Cosmological Arguments from Contingency,” Philosophy Compass 5/9 (2010), pp. 806-819.
Kreeft, Peter. Annotated Notes in Thomas Aquinas. Summa of the Summa. Edited and Annotated by Peter Kreeft. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 1990.
Kreeft, Peter & Tacelli, Ronald K. Twenty Arguments For the Existence of God http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#1
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