Of Course God exists…

Not manythomas aquinas Protestants ever read much of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.  This is hardly surprising given that he is a thirteenth century figure, beloved by Roman Catholics as the Great Doctor of the Church (in the classic sense of the word – teacher).  Thomas believed a lot of things that your average Protestant would reject out of hand – seven sacraments, etc.  But we have neglected some good stuff in neglecting Thomas.  Some of the most important and famous things in Thomas’ writings are his arguments for the existence of God.

Thomas, like most folks before modern times, believed it was a perfectly rational thing to do to believe in God.  In fact, reason demands that we believe in him (it is unreasonable not to believe in God!).  How did Thomas get there?  He believed what the apostle Paul believed (see the early chapters of Romans) – that God can be seen by what he has made – that there is evidence that there is a God simply by looking around at his Creation.  God’s might, glory, and splendor are all around us.

Thomas argued for the existence of God on the basis of cause and effect.  We see cause and effect all around us all the time.  For every effect there is a cause.  Follow the string of causes back in time far enough and you will realize that there must be a first cause – an uncaused cause.  God is the uncaused first cause.

Thomas made a similar argument on the basis of motion.  Things that move have been set in motion by some other mover.  Follow the path backward from motion to mover to the first mover and you will reach God – he is the unmoved mover.  Both of these arguments are examples of the cosmological argument (the “cosmos” itself gives evidence for God’s existence).

Yet another convincing argument for the existence of God is the argument based on purpose.  If you see an arrow shot into a target you don’t assume that the arrow has accomplished this on its own.  There is an intelligent agent which has clearly directed that arrow purposely on its course.  The world around us displays just such evidence of purpose – God is the one who has given it this purpose (this “teleological argument” is popular again in our day with the Intelligent Design movement).

No one will likely come to faith purely on the basis of such arguments, but they are valuable nevertheless.  They help to demonstrate that belief in God is not unreasonable.  On the contrary, it is entirely consistent with reason to believe in God.  More than this is necessary (we of course also believe in the necessity of the Revelation of Jesus Christ through the Scriptures), but Thomas provided a helpful rational basis for belief.  Despite what many in our culture tell us, you can have a brain and be a Christian!

Thanks Dr. Tom!