Science “Proves” Gods existence

I am just a novice and not a bible scholar, but is not what the Vatican approved Catholic Priest Exorcists do every day a pretty compelling reason to believe God exists. I honestly can’t believe these men tell lies and just make up the same story over and over again about helping people get rid of demons and the fact that the demons are compelled to give up their names because of the power of God over evil.

Fr Spitzer, New Proofs of God. This is probably a book that you’ll be looking for;

Science is the wrong realm to seek proofs of God’s existence, which more properly belong to the realm of philosophy rather than science. This is not to say that certain doctrines in natural science (such as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, chaos theory, & quantum mechanics) can’t inform our philosophical knowledge of God via natural theology, but the main issues are usually based on metaphysics, which has little to do with the cutting edge knowledge frontiers of natural science.

Basically, you can boil down metaphysical worldviews into those who believe in a Prime Cause of the known universe, and those who believe in the eternity of the known universe.

The latter often fall into the category of atheists, but from a metaphysical perspective, they seem to adhere to a sort of panentheism–i.e., that everything always was and always will be, or that everything is random and connected, even though nothing caused it. It’s a sort of Buddhist mindset that claims that nothing really caused anything, but somehow we live under the illusion of being different from everything… or that our souls are ephemeral and don’t really contain free will at all… or if they do, that free will is just a temporary accident of nature that will go away, or get repeated eternally, or whatever else. Notice that none of that really makes any sense.

So if it is untrue that “everything is God”, then you are left with a Prime Mover, and then have to decide whether such a Prime Mover has an intelligent mind or not. For those who are monists, God is just some first cause of energy or something like that, and the creation of the universe was mindless. Note that this is not very different from the Buddhist/panentheist view described above. If anything, it is even more bleak. Some odd substance out there is God, but has no intelligence or will, and created the Big Bang, and here we are existing like a tiny blip on the eternal plane of existence, soon to be snuffed out, with everything we do in our lives constituting nothing but a lot of sound and fury.

Fine tuning arguments would tend to move one toward the Judeo-Christian conception of an intelligent God, but philosophically speaking, there are ways that atheists can theorize around fine tuning, essentially claiming that it is just an illusion based on our own biased perspective. Ultimately, the only way to prove that the Prime Mover is intelligent is to prove that our own intelligent self-awareness cannot arise from the created universe.

For those who believe in A.I. and that computers will take over the world, there is no need for the Prime Mover to be intelligent. It’s just an accidental phenomenon that occurs in nature when the conditions are right for it. For Catholics, self-conscious awareness was something breathed into the soul of man, and did not arise merely from the physical accidents of human evolution. There is a certain dualism to the human soul, where flesh and spirit are united as one. Once you have proven that this must be so, then it’s not difficult to make an argument for why the Prime Mover must also possess such self-aware intention, and thus fit with the traditional Christian conception of God.

How do you prove that? Simply by pointing out the insufficiency of theories for how self-awareness and consciousness might be created by material causes. If the truth of our own subjective experience is something as immediately knowable as the truth of physical creation (and this is certainly true of a child, but sometimes adults will delude themselves into believing that their own consciousness is a false illusion), then God should also be knowable as necessarily existing.

It is difficult to prove though, because the idea of artificial intelligence and self-conscious awareness being something arising from material causes is something so deeply ingrained in our modern anti-theistic culture that we are barely even aware of it.

I know it’s a stretch to believe that ensoulment occurs concurrently by supernatural means every single time a human gets physically created out of material methods that can be replicated in a test tube, but that’s exactly what Christians believe. If consciousness were simply a matter of arranging physical molecules in a particular pattern, then the Christian faith would be proven false, at least in the way that I understand it.

God is also not only an a priori conclusion. Belief in His existence is backed up by far more proof then what aspirin’s medical properties are based on.

Here’s an interesting thought: God’s existence is backed up by the laws of logic, whereas empirical knowledge is based on data received from the five senses. But the laws of logic are more reliable than sensory data. Therefore, God’s existence is more certain than anything we know through empirical methods.

Seeing God everywhere and all things upheld by Him is not a matter of sanctity, but of plain sanity, because God IS everywhere and all things are upheld by Him. What we do about it may be sanctity; but merely seeing it is sanity. To overlook God’s presence is not simply to be irreligious; it is a kind of insanity, like overlooking anything else that is actually there. It is part of the atmosphere in which we live - and which therefore we too must breathe - to take for granted that these considerations are edifying, and possibly even relevant if one happens to be of a religious temperament: but not otherwise. It may be a first step towards a fumigation of the atmosphere if we see the fallacy of this too easy view.
If you were driving in a car, saw it heading straight for a tree, and called out to the driver to swerve or he would hit it; and if he answered: “It is no good talking to me about trees: I’m a motorist, not a botanist,” you would feel that he was carrying respect for the rights of the specialist too far. A tree is not only a fact of botany: it is a fact.
God is not only a fact of religion: He is a fact. Not to see Him is to be wrong about everything, which includes being wrong about one’s self. It does not require any extreme of religious fanaticism for a man to want to know what he is: and this he cannot know without some study of the Being who alone brought him into existence and holds him there.

God’s existence is not backed up by the laws of logic: the closest that logic will take us is to a First Cause, but logic does not demonstrate that the First Cause is sentient, let alone good.

God’s existence is not that simply provable, which is why faith is important.

Actually, that’s not quite right…You just need to take the Arguments of Natural Theology in their entirety. Unfortunately most people only read the one article in the Summa for the Argument for Gods existence; but most of the following articles of the First Part are to do with the Divine Nature. Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange wrote a 2 volume series “God: His Existence and His Nature” based upon demonstrating the Existence of God and his attributes on purely Philosophical grounds, and responding to the common objections both Philosophical and Theological. Fr Lagranges work is available online, I can find a link if you wish. The better work of Aquinas on Natural Theology is the Summa Contra Gentiles Book I; it’s more detailed.

Where reason gives out is whether Christ was God, whether the God-head is triune, whether Christ was resurrected, after being crucified under Pontius Pilate, on the third day, etc. There is just a lot of background conceptual understanding required in comprehending the arguments. They aren’t simple; and rest upon a very intricate and rich philosophy.

If you could, that would be great: my university library does not have it.

There is just a lot of background conceptual understanding required in comprehending the arguments. They aren’t simple; and rest upon a very intricate and rich philosophy.

That’s okay; should I get stuck on any of the big words, I know some smart people whom I can ask. :wink:

It was actually more of a sigh towards myself, because this began to hurt my head as I was reading some of the epistemology. The source I downloaded the PDF from appears to no longer exist; so I will upload a copy tomorrow. It is available for purchase from lulu, but I’m not terribly sure of the quality of the reprint.

St Thomas’ extended piece on natural theology can be found here:
Which is the best source I can give you a direct link to at this moment; I’ll rattle the head to remember anything in the morning after Mass.

Did Aquinas ever try to prove that God was PERSONAL? His arguments are sufficient enough merely for a life force of some kind. Someone argued that self-awareness can’t come from non-awareness. But what if if souls are really eternal, and just awake within time? What arguments can we use from there?? thanks

Personality in Aquinas means possession of Intellect and Will; God is personality, by definition, as he is both intellect and will. Arguments in Aquinas in regards to Gods will and Knowledge will cover his arguments that imply God is Personality.

Note; you cannot in Aquinas’ thought say that God is A Person, as that would imply composition.

Ah, yes, the joy of reading people who think that their reasoning is more important than their communication of that reasoning. :rolleyes:

I will upload a copy tomorrow. It is available for purchase from lulu, but I’m not terribly sure of the quality of the reprint.

Thanks very much for that.

St Thomas’ extended piece on natural theology can be found here:
Which is the best source I can give you a direct link to at this moment; I’ll rattle the head to remember anything in the morning after Mass.

That one is another First Cause argument (in section 13), with a few odd moments at the end: 13.33 and 13.34 both refer to the First Cause as God, but do not demonstrate any need for that Cause to be sentient; 13.35 does the same with the principle of universal coherence; there is also a translation issue, in that the English of 13.34 immediately refers to “a being”, which makes it sound like a single, living entity, but the Latin is entia, neuter plural, “things being”, following Aristotle. Aquinas then identifies the singular via Idealism, which, while an appealing argument, is not a logically compelling one.

In other words, Aquinas does the usual thing: he works through the argument for the First Cause and then assumes that that First Cause is equivalent to the sentient, and absolutely Good deity whom he worships.

Aquinas goes through Gods Existence and the Divine Attributes from Book 1 Chapters 13 well into Book 2 (when dealing with the question of Creation); Section 13 would be but the first thesis of a very long argument. The rest of the arguments follows necessarily from the first thesis; but their conclusions are only virtually contained within Chapter 13. Chapter 37 deals with “God is Good”, with the following chapter demonstrating that God is subsistent Goodness itself. Following this the Doctor deals with God is intelligence, and the nature of knowledge in God, after knowledge comes the Divine Will, culminating in the Divine Activity in Book 2.

Chapter 13 shouldn’t be read alone; but in the context of the entire book.

You don’t need anyone to prove His existence. As long as He resides in your heart, mind, and in your prayers, He will always exist.

God Bless.

I’ve heard that St. Bonaventure had a debate with Aquinas on whether motion can be eternal. Yet Aquinas argues that there can be all intermediate motions, but must be a first? I don’t see how these arguments can prove merely a sustainer of eternal motion.

St Bonaventure disagreed with Aquinas’ classification of temporal motion as motion per accidens which can, in principle, infinitely regress. There has been debate in Thomistic circles in the 20th century due to the advancements of modern physics as to the nature (or ontology) of Time. It is now generally conceded that St Thomas’ conception of time is deficient and requires reformulation; some now argue that temporal motion is motion ordered per se and therefore can not infinitely regress.

This, however, doesn’t affect the validity of Aquinas’ 5 Ways; as they work whether time is infinite or not. Divine Causation is more analogous to Mozart playing his Requiem; once Mozart stops playing, the music stops. If God were to cease willing creation into Being, creation would instantly annihilate.

In order for such a thing to exist, we would have to be able to make predictions about the world based on a “God model.” The process would look like this:

If we knew nothing about the universe except that the Catholic God created it, what sort of expectations would we have about that universe?

We might think, for example, that God would have created a universe where life played a big role. Life would occupy a pretty good sized portion of the universe.

We might think that the world would be a basically pleasant place, God would prevent random accidents (e.g. lightning strikes) from killing off children. There might not be any diseases at all.

We might expect to see some perfectly clear instructions about how the universe works and how we should behave. God would somehow unambiguously tell us that we should only marry one person, or that slavery is wrong, and that we shouldn’t stone people to death pretty much ever. God could also tell us that stuff is made of atoms, or that we need to eat a balanced diet to stay healthy.

However, no theology that I know of actually makes any such predictions because they mostly turn out to be wrong. No one is ever willing to hang their theology on a prediction of the universe that may turn out to be incorrect. Instead they simply resort to saying: “see how the universe is, that’s exactly what God would have done.” Unfortunately, that leaves nothing for science to confirm or deny.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is an excellent logical argument for the existence of God. It was originally developed by Muslim philosophers (don’t freak out, they’re Theists too) and later added to by Protestant Apologist William Lane Craig. It only proves Theism (God, of a sort, exists), not Christianity specifically, but it is a very solid proof. Roughly, it looks like this:

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The physical world (including time itself) began to exist
  3. Therefore, the physical world had a cause. (Presumably God. More on that later.)

Now this argument is clearly logically valid (the conclusion flows from the premises), so the only way an atheist can refute it is by attacking the premises. The first premise is generally accepted. After all, it is true for every single case which has been tested. Everything that we know of that began to exist has a cause for coming into existence (not including the universe itself, since that is the thing to be proved). Chairs come into existence because of carpenters, storms come into existence because of weather fronts, etc. The first premise is just as certain as any scientific fact, or perhaps more so.

An atheist could really only refute the second premise one way: to say that the physical world (including time) has always existed. If time has always existed, it means that the past is infinite, but this cannot be true. To explain why, let’s look at Aristotle’s two definitions of something that is infinite:

Potential Infinite: A potential infinite is something that is not, at the present moment, infinite. It is something that is becoming infinite by a repeated process (such as adding one to a number). If the process were to continue indefinitely, in theory the thing would become infinite. This is what is used in mathematics. (such as a line or pair of coordinate axes extending indefinitely, or a number being divided an infinite number of times to create an infinite number of decimal places). If the atheist is merely saying that time is a potential infinite, then he would have to admit that the past is finite since everything that is a potential infinite must start as something finite.

Actual Infinite: An actual infinite is a thing that is infinite now. Described as “a complete set of an infinite number of things”. The past cannot be an actual infinite since an actual infinite cannot be “traversed”. If one sets out to cross an infinite distance, he will never arrive at the destination. We have come from the past to the present, which means that the past has been traversed, which means the past must be finite, which means that time must have had a beginning.

This means that the physical world must have had a first cause, but what does this argument prove about the First Cause? It proves that He must be non-physical, outside of time, eternal, powerful, creative, and personal (i.e. He is a person, someone with a will, not a mechanical, cause-and-effect force). The First Cause must be personal because if He is the only eternal thing, then what could have caused Him to create the physical world other than Himself? It must have been done by His own choice and for no other reason, which means He has a will.

Here are some links to some of the research I did on this:

It’s just another way of stating the same basic philosophical categories that exist.

There must be something without a cause, and some people can choose to call whatever exists without a cause “God.” For those who think that the whole universe has always existed and always will, then the whole universe is considered God, and you get panentheism. For those who think the universe had a cause, God is distinct from the created universe, and you have either a non-intelligent God that randomly caused things to exist, or else you have an intelligent God that designed creation. For those who believe in an intelligent God, you can have either an omnipotent God, or a demiurge that makes mistakes. For those who believe in an omnipotent God, you either have one that truly allows for non-deterministic free will, or you have one that predetermines everything.

To get to the Catholic conception of God, you have to take the right fork in the road at every decision point along this categorical tree. For me, the weakest link in the chain (i.e., the one that is most difficult to prove from basic philosophical arguments) is the one that posits an intelligent God rather than a non-intelligent God.

Perhaps though I am too taken in by false arguments asserting that the Big Bang is just a random event that could occur an infinite number of times. If you take the basic fact of entropy in the universe as a given, whereby the universe is always decaying more than it is becoming ordered, then I suppose you have to admit that the fine-tuning arguments for an intelligent designer are valid and incontrovertible.

For me, the arguments against panentheism (i.e., that it lacks a good argument to explain the creation of illusory consciousness), against a demiurge (i.e., that a God who created the rules of logic itself ex nihilo could not reasonably be said to be limited or inadequate by the standards of those same rules), and against an all-determining God (don’t even get me started) are relatively easy to make.

Not necessarily. Just because the universe is a lot bigger than the tiny space life occupies does not mean that life is unimportant. A man might make a huge safe with walls twenty feet think all for the sake of one tiny diamond which is only one centimeter in diameter. Does that mean the safe is more important to him than than the diamond, just because it is bigger? No, of course not. In fact, the contrary is true. size does not equal importance.

God did make a perfect world, probably something of the kind you just described, only better. In fact, instructions on how to behave were as simple as ever: “Don’t eat the fruit from that tree in the center of the garden.” and the thought of any other evil, such as killing, did not even enter man’s mind. Unfortunately, WE are the ones who messed it up. God made the world perfect, WE are the ones who brought, death and suffering and killing, and disease, and all that stuff into the world, because humans did not want to behave in that one tiny commandment. What makes you think people would behave if only Almighty God gave them clear, unambiguous, instructions? We have wills of our own, and many human wills don’t want peace and harmony.

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