I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. “You can’t prove God exists!”
It seems like more and more people these days only believe in what they can see, touch, hear, taste, and smell. It’s all about what our senses can experience and what we can wrap our brains around.
Pope Benedict XVI has declared a Year of Faith for us all to get back to the basics and proclaim that there is more to life than only what we can see! Every Sunday we proclaim, “I believe in God the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all things visible and invisible.” At every Sunday Mass we reaffirm our belief that God has created all things and that the visible world is not all that there is.
Right about now, it would be a really good idea to take a good hard look at where Faith and Reason cross paths. You see, as Catholics, we know that there is nothing that science can discover that will contradict our faith; our God is the Creator of the whole universe and He is the author of truth. So anything that is true, anything that we can find out about our world, just leads us to know our God more and more.
One of the most wonderful aspects of our Catholic faith is that we have 2,000 years of reflection and teaching on all areas of our faith. One of the most famous teachers we have at our disposal is St. Thomas Aquinas, who just might be one of the most intelligent men to ever walk the earth. St. Thomas came up with five ways that we can prove the existence of God using our reason, without ever having to use the Bible or the Catechism or anything that people who aren’t believers wouldn’t consider real evidence. So, let’s dive in!
Everyone can see that motion exists in the world; your eyes are moving across these words right now. Everything that moves is caused to move by something or someone else, your living room furniture isn’t just going to rearrange itself (let’s hope!). If everything that moves has to be moved by something outside of itself, there has to be a “first mover” that caused motion to exist for the very first time, or else we just have to keep going back in time to infinity, which is impossible! This first mover is what we call God.
2. Cause & Effect
Everything that exists was caused to exist; fire causes heat, rain causes crops to grow, your parents caused you! If a lump of clay is sitting on the table in front of you, it’s not going to shape itself into a vase. That’s impossible, and unless you form the clay yourself it’s just going to sit there. So since everything that is created needs a cause, there must be a first, ultimate cause, which we call God.
Our third way is the argument from existence. The computer or smartphone that you are using to read this article on did not exist at some point in the past, it had to be put together and created. The same is true with creation! It exists now, but at some point it had to come into existence, which every scientist in the world would admit. And since “nothing” can’t become “something,” there must be something that exists by its own power that makes everything else to exist. And . . . that would be God.
So then we have the argument from progression. There are things that are good, better, and best. However, we can only say that things are better and best if we know that there is something out there that has to be the maximum of all these things – fire is the maximum of heat and makes everything else hot. God is the cause of all other things, and He is the maximum of all that can be.
The last argument is from the design of the world. An acorn will always grow into an oak tree and the sun will always cause plants to grow as long as there is water and oxygen. The world has order and our universe obeys certain laws, St. Thomas uses the example of an arrow that is fired by an archer. The arrow will only fly through the air and hit the target if it is directed by an archer, and what directs our universe to act the way it does with knowledge and intelligence is what we call God.
Pretty cool right? With some basic logic (and a little bit of time to think about things), believing that there is a God isn’t as unreasonable as some people out there might think.
Too bad we can’t use these steps to figure out if unicorns exist . . .