Proof V.s. Faith


Why do we talk about proofs for matters of faith? I have always thought that to have faith was to accept something without proof. That once something is proven it no longer can be a matter of faith. Faith depends on placing trust in witnesses while proof of something follows observation and reasoned interpretation.:confused: :confused:


You believe, Thomas because you have seen
blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe.


For those without faith no explanation is possible. For those with faith no explanation is necessary.


The Catholic Church recognizes that there are two types of things that are revealed.

  1. Things that can be known both by human reason alone and also by divine Revelation.

  2. Things that can only be known because of divine Revelation.

For instance, we can know using reason alone that murder is immoral, but this is also revealed by God.


The Catechism says in no uncertain terms that we can know God by way of reason:

39 In defending the ability of human reason to know God, the Church is expressing her confidence in the possibility of speaking about him to all men and with all men, and therefore of dialogue with other religions, with philosophy and science, as well as with unbelievers and atheists.

50 By natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of his works…

…but that reason is not enough.

37 In the historical conditions in which he finds himself, however, man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God by the light of reason alone…



…yet gives no proof of God’s existence from the use of reason alone.


The proofs we give seem to only be good once we’ve accepted certain points on faith.


The problem with proof is Jesus would have had to die 3 times, with the same results each time, for it to be valid. . .



Kitty – nice! :thumbsup:

OK, guys, I’m going to do my best here with Aquinas, whose Summa Theologica is not necessarily doctrinal, but is nonetheless a) a work by one of the Doctors of the Church and b) a work by one of the most respected Western philosophers.

In summary (from

I answer that it can be proved in five ways that God exists.

The first and plainest is the method that proceeds from the point of view of motion. It is certain and in accord with experience, that things on earth undergo change…But this process cannot go on to infinity because there would not be any first mover…Therefore it is necessary to go back to some first mover, which is itself moved by nothing—and this all men know as God.

The second proof is from the nature of the efficient cause. We find in our experience that there is a chain of causes: nor is it found possible for anything to be the efficient cause of itself, since it would have to exist before itself, which is impossible…Hence we must presuppose some first efficient cause—which all call God.

The third proof is taken from the natures of the merely possible and necessary. We find that certain things either may or may not exist…But it is impossible for all things that are of this character to exist eternally, because what may not exist, at length will not…Hence there must be presupposed something necessarily existing through its own nature, not having a cause elsewhere but being itself the cause of the necessary existence of other things—which all call God.

The fourth proof arises from the degrees that are found in things. For there is found a greater and a less degree of goodness, truth, nobility, and the like…What moreover is the greatest in its way, in another way is the cause of all things of its own kind (or genus); thus fire, which is the greatest heat, is the cause of all heat…Therefore there exists something that is the cause of the existence of all things and of the goodness and of every perfection whatsoever—and this we call God.

The fifth proof arises from the ordering of things for we see that some things which lack reason, such as natural bodies, are operated in accordance with a plan. It appears from this that they are operated…in this same way the closer they follow what is the Highest; whence it is clear that they do not arrive at the result by chance but because of a purpose. The things, moreover, that do not have intelligence do not tend toward a result unless directed by some one knowing and intelligent…Therefore there is something intelligent by which all natural things are arranged in accordance with a plan—and this we call God.

My reply…is that since nature is ordered in accordance with some defined purpose by the direction of some superior agent, those things that spring from nature must be dependent upon God, just as upon a first cause. Likewise, what springs from a proposition must be traceable to some higher cause which is not the human reason or will, because this is changeable and defective and everything changeable and liable to non-existence is dependent upon some unchangeable first principle that is necessarily self-existent as has been shown.

Even the pagan Aristotle – the cornerstone of Western philosophy – nearly deduced the existence of God when he arrived at the conclusion of one unmoved mover that is the engine of all change in the universe and is, itself, unaffected by the universe.

Obviously, there is a great deal more to it than this, and I do not wish to portray myself as an expert on Thomistic or Aristotelian philosophy.



Thanks, something Ive learned from atheists, besides never quoting scripture because its not your thoughts.

Anyway, I have heard off and on about Thomas Aquinas, did he write a particular book of some kind? That a person could read. Not that it matters to me (I dont mean that in any which way) but was he a catholic? I take it he lived a while ago.

I tend to gravitate I think to real “old school”, like CS Lewis and Andrew Murray, Im not sure why. Probably because they are generally not hysterical, I suppose. :slight_smile:


Well said. God Bless


There are many senses of the word “proof”. It can denote a demonstration. Truth doesn’t contradict truth. Sometimes when a person, for whatever reason, doesn’t see a truth or the Truth, we can use the truth he presently knows to lead him to other truth. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Once a person, through grace, knows the truth of who God is, they can have faith in the fullest sense of the word: They believe God simply because he is God. Truth Himself speaks truly or there is nothing true.


St. Thomas Aquinas was a Catholic and is one of the doctors of the Church. He lived in the thirteenth century and wrote many important theological works. He is most famous for his Summa Theologiae, which is a summary of his answers to thousands of questions, in which he addresses all the important arguments of the day for any given topic.


Ok on another board, his name comes up and Ive seen bits of what hes said quoted. (This was on a noncatholic site) 13 century is definetely old school :slight_smile: is Suma Theologiae redone into a book, or on the web?

As a note something I find interesting is, one can look at a “hot topic” of today and probably find it in CS Lewis, then Thomas’s writings, then look again and find it in the bible. And I think of how so many today think they are sooo “original” like no ones done it before. And I read “therre is nothing new under the sun”

#15 has the Summa Theologica. It also has a good amount of the other Church Fathers translated into English and available for free. But not to worry, they take donations. :wink:

EDIT: …although as an introductory text, I like this Knights of Columbus series much better.


Thanks Steadfast.

Just as a slight derail Ive never understood people who get cranked out over giving donations to people in the service of the Lord. Were supposed to :rolleyes: Theres this thing that they can have money but not extra, didnt people get churned up when they thought Mother Teressa may have got some money, horrors! I know she didnt. But even though she wouldnt accepted it, I still would have sent her to a nice beach spa for a couple days and not thought anything ill of her if she enjoyed it. :slight_smile:

To take it back on topic, This kind of thinking (no one rich or with money can know God) and because Christians have money it proves Gods a sham and money grab. (Even though those complaining dont acknowledge God they still use this logic as proof against) Did I explain that right??


That once something is proven it no longer can be a matter of faith. Faith depends on placing trust in witnesses while proof of something follows observation and reasoned interpretation. You’re operating under what I call the “Bertrand Russel” definition of faith, which says that faith is “belief in something in the complete absence of evidence or in the face of evidence to the contrary”. One of its corollaries is “if it’s supported by evidence, it cannot be faith”. This definition does not actually describe faith, what it describes is “credulity”.

The Judaeo-Christian definition of faith is very different. It could be stated as “an act of the will in which one aheres to another who is known”. As in the example of making a decision to rely on the peer-review process of an acadamy of science because you know that that process has proven to be reliable in the past. Or else, as in making a decision to rely on the data reported by another, because that person has proven to be a reliable collector of data in the past. Or most importantly, as in adhering to God because we know who he is.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that faith is an act of the will in which one turns toward God and away from sin; in which we decide that we will cooperate, with our intellect and will, with the divine grace that God gives us to enable us to comply with the moral law; it is a free response of the human person to the initiative of God; it is a personal adherence of the whole man to the God who reveals himself.

Faith and proof are perfectly compatible. [FONT=Arial]Without faith, we cannot truly believe in anything that we did not personally observe. In fact, most of what we believe, be it scientific or not, we believe because we have faith in others.[/FONT]


Kitty Chan,
Heh, it was more of a jab at myself than anyone else. Now, as a freshly minted Catholic, there are much more complelling ministries competing for my tithe. It feels like more of a privilage and less of a chore.

Nicely put! :thumbsup:


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