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Posted by alexandra_k on April 2, 2005, at 3:41:28

Aquinas' First Way

(i) In the natural world we observe that some objects are in motion.
(ii) In the natural world a thing only gets to be in motion by being acted on by another thing.
(iii) In the natural world there are no infinite cause and effect chains.
(iv) There must be some super-natural being (beyond and prior to the natural world) to set the first moving thing in the natural world in motion.
(v) Hence, God exists.

In case anyone is worried about the truth of (iii) Aquinas offered an independent argument for that. I'll adapt it a little...

(i) You are now sitting in front of your computer.
(ii) That event didn't just spring into being all by itself, there was a causal chain leading up to it.
(iii) A causal chain that is infinitely long would (by definition) lack a first member.
(iv) If it lacked a first member then the subsequent chain could not have occured.
(v) So because of (i) causal chains cannot be infinitely long.

Typically we consider these arguments and evaluate them. Consider whether they work or not and their merits and flaws.

The major thing is that all it shows the existence of (if it works to that extent) is a First Mover. We don't know what attributes that first mover has (whether it is omni-god for example). But Aquinas knew that. He didn't think one could find God in his totality by following deductive arguments. But he thought it was a way to see an aspect of God.

Another thing is that we don't know that all causal chains extend back to the same first mover or first cause. There could be a different number of causal chains where each chain has a seperate and distinct first mover or cause.

But anyway - the point is that it seems to be an indicator that there needs to exist a super-natural being (of the logically prior to nature kind) in order for the world to exist.

In one of my tuts this just struck us as valid.
Typically it does not.
But that day it did.
I offered the criticisms I usually offer (from the text) - but nobody found them compelling.
Not even me.
They were swiftly disposed of.
I love tuts like that.





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