Defining God as Existence

Hi, I’m teaching a friend about a proof for the existence of God I found on Catholic Answers called A Proof for the Existence of God by James Kidd.

I just have a question about this. I’m taking it as a given that Aquinas proved that God is “ipsum esse subsistens”, Being itself subsisting. (And please correct me if I’m wrong —>) I also know that all of these terms are equivalent:

Being itself subsisting = Subsistent Being = Being Itself = Being = Esse (Latin for Being)

This article says “existence” exists, because that is its definition (cool makes sense :heavy_check_mark:) Therefore it says Esse exists, in English: Being (wait hold on let’s take a look at this).

My question from this article is… Does “Existence” = Being? Or is more nuanced than that? If I can say that, does that mean God is “Existence Itself”?

You may say for example maybe “Existence” is the subsistent act of Being? But wouldn’t that = Being? Just trying to make sure my terms are kosher before I teach this. Thanks!

There’s probably someone here with a better handle on this than me, but my understanding is in God existence and essence are the same. God is (or as He puts it, “I AM”). And where essence and existence are one thing, it is impossible to conceive of one without the other. Obviously other things for which we can conceive of an essence may or may not exist (like a unicorn or Thor). Here’s how the CE puts it:

-If essence and existence were but one thing, we should be unable to conceive the one without conceiving the other. But we are as a fact able to conceive of essence by itself.
-If there be no real distinction between the two, then the essence is identical with the existence. But in God alone are these identical.

Unless one denies existence, there is really no such thing as an atheist strictly speaking. We just disagree as to whether that principle by which the cosmos has come into and/or is sustained in being is a distinct substance (God by definition) or the cosmos itself is this principle (“atheism”/pantheism).

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And since God is conscious does that mean existence/being is conscious?

David Chalmers

Yes and yes.

Being is defined as existence, God is Existence Itself as He is Pure Actuality: where nothing potentially exists, all being is actually existing in God. You could say existence exists from God.

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Isn’t that Pantheism?

No, pantheism is identifying the universe with God, or identifying the material with God. God cannot be the universe because the universe is constantly changing, and God is Pure Act or Existence.

All material/finite/potential realities come from God, but He is not these realities fundamentally. In other words you cannot give what you do not have, God’s attributes are fundamentally distinct from the world, so much so that no man can even comprehend what God truly is.

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God is the difference between something and absolutely nothing, and this is because he is the existence by which all other things can exist. God’s nature is existence, his very essence is existence and this is the power by which God gives existence. This also means that all other natures, although they exist, are not “existence” strictly speaking but rather they have existence through the power of God or the power of that nature we call existence. By themselves all other natures other than God do not exist through their own nature, or to put it another way it is not their nature to exist.

Ultimately existence is a nature and that nature we call God.

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