How do you know God exists philosophically? In previous posts we employed philosophical inquiry to discover that there must be one, absolutely-simple, uncaused being that is the cause of all other beings. In this final post in this series we’ll determine if philosophy can tell us anything more about this uncaused being: can we really call it God?
Thomas Aquinas, after using philosophical terms to describe God, sometimes closes his argument with the expression, “and this we call God”. (See for example Summa Theologiae > First Part > Question 2 > Article 3).
Here we will follow his lead and acknowledge that the one, absolutely-simple, uncaused being that is the cause of all other beings is in fact God. Are there any other attributes of God that can be known through philosophy? The following is a list of divine attributes that philosophers have associated with God.
- Supremely Good
- Transcendent and Immanent
Although each of these can be logically derived, their proofs are less rigorous than what we’ve seen with the proofs in the previous posts. Furthermore, some give rise to seemingly insurmountable problems. Check out these links for information from Fr. Spitzer on philosophical discussions of free will v. God’s omniscience and suffering v. God’s omnipotence.
Because many philosophers see no way to get beyond the stripped-down description of God as merely a creator deity, this depiction of God has come to be known as the God of the philosophers. The challenge for Christian philosophy is to show the seamless complementarity between the philosophers’ God and the personal, loving, God of Christian revelation. For Thomas Aquinas, proof of the Divine attributes is rooted in God’s perfection. For whatever a creature possesses in a partial and imperfect way, God, as the source of all Being, must possess in a complete and perfect way.
To see the first article in this series, click here.
Joseph Miller is the Executive Director of the Magis Center