Proving the foundation for God's existence

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Dumb Ox's picture
Proving the foundation for God's existence

Hello. This is my first post in this forum and I am exited to be able to discuss important issues with people who care.

The goal of this post is to set the foundation for proving the existence of God. It will, hopefully, prove that there is a first unmoved mover or uncaused cause, who can only be one, who is eternal, and who is all powerful since this being has existence by nature.

First I will go through a few working definitions and disclaimers:

Potentiality is the ability to become something in actuality. It is determinable.
Actually is when a thing really exists in reality in a certain determined way.
So, for example, clay has the potential to be made into a statue, but as clay it is actually clay and is not a statue in act, but only in potential.

"Motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality." (St Thomas Summa) Note that Motion is being used in a more broad sense than normal. For instance, water which is boiled is moved from cool to hot. The cool water had the potential to be hot. The fire moved or cause it to be hot, which is to say it became hot in act.

The argument from motion is an à posteriori.

The argument does not state everything which exists is moved or everything which moves something else must have been moved.

Furthermore, the arguments I present don't need to prove everything about God in order to prove something.

I am not trying to prove Christianity or Catholicism in this post, which ultimately cannot be proved with absolute certainty by reason or historical evidence.

Now here is the first way of St. Thomas with modifications:

1. (Premise) It is evident that there is motion which is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. (Empirical fact)
2. (Premise) Everything which is moved cannot move itself. Potency in one respect cannot actualize itself in the same respect. Something in act must actualize the potency. (Empirical fact and necessary via principle of non contradiction)
3. (Premise) "If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand." Also note that the first mover is primary and not necessarily first temporally in a series. St. Thomas explains elsewhere in the Summa that he thinks the world could be eternal and there could be an infinitely long series of non-subordinated causes. For instance, at least in principle according to Thomas, there could be an infinitely long chain of rail road cars moving, but there would still need to be a locomotive with an engine to move the infinite rail road cars. (Necessary via principle of sufficient reason)
4. (Conclusion) Therefore, since there is motion (1), there must be a first mover who is an unmoved mover (2) and (3).

So what is special about this unmoved mover? Why should we call him God? I won't prove that he he has all of the divine attributes in this post, but I will prove the basis for many of the devine attributes. Namely, that the unmoved mover is pure act and has existence by his own essence or rather, his essence is his existence and vice versa.
Here is my second syllogism:

1. Being presupposes causation/motion. Existence presupposes motion.
2. Things which are contingent have the potential to exist or not to exist.
3. Some things are contingent.
4. Their existence must be actualized by something else with existence.
5. This cannot go on infinitely between beings who needed their existence to be actualized.
6. Therefore a being who has existence in act by nature and who does not need existence to be actualized by another must exist.

Since this being has existence by nature and since a being is in act in so far as it exists in a certain way, the being in 6 must posses act in itself since it possess existence in itself. So, that being is pure act, which is what I call God. It is pure act because it does not have existence in a limited way, but is existence itself. Again, I am not trying to prove that this being has all of the divine attributes.

I suggest reading a few paragraphs from this link to know what a per se ordered casual series is
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-serie...

Now, I will present the second way of St. Thomas which proves a first cause:

1. We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.

2. Nothing exists prior to itself.

3. Therefore nothing [in the world of things we perceive] is the efficient cause of itself.

4. If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results (the effect).

5. Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.

6. If the series of efficient causes ordered per se extends ad infinitum into the past, then there would be no things existing now.

7. That is plainly false (i.e., there are things existing now that came about through efficient causes).

8. Therefore efficient causes do not extend ad infinitum in a per se casual series.

9. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause.

This syllogism is from this cite with some slight modifications:
http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasFiveWays_A...

This first cause is uncaused necessarily. It has casual power by its own nature. Therefore, it has existence by nature and therefore you can say that it's essence is its existence.
But why can't there be two or more of these first causes or first movers?
Well, first off, for there to be two of something with some nature there must be some kind of a difference. Otherwise, they would be the same thing. If two things are the same in every possible way, then they are not two but one. Now, the first uncaused cause must be eternal and without beginning in order to have casual power by nature. Again we can say that it's essence is its nature.
If there were two uncaused causes, then they would have the common nature of existence=essence + some difference/accident. But those differences would not exist by there own nature and hence would have to be caused by a first uncaused cause. Therefore, there could not be two or more uncaused causes since differences in two hypothetical first uncaused causes could not be eternal and would have to be caused.

One last point: this being must be all powerful. Power is the ability to do something. To have power one must exist. If one can cause something to exist then he has power to do that. This being has existence and causality by its own nature and by necessity. Therefore, it is power by its own nature and can cause any possible thing to exist. It is therefore all powerful.

Finally, I will make a few closing statements. The being, which I think I have proved, sounds an awful lot like God. But to see how this being has all of the other divine attributes requires much reading and argumentation which I do not have time to present or at least not in one thread. So, I suggest that you read the relevant passages of the Summa Theologica or Summa Contra Gentelis of St. Thomas or a book by Dr. Edward Feser who is a Catholic Thomist philosopher.

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LogicForTW's picture
Eep, that got a bit long. Can

Eep, that got a bit long. Can you distill it it down to a main point, and then to reference or back up your argument having supporting detail below?

I managed two paragraphs in before I felt like it was not worth the effort to read the rest to find out if this is a topic I wanted respond to.

The first paragraph made it look like you were doing the cosmological/big bang/what came first argument. And then you were trying to back up your argument up by setting up definitions, which then I assume leads to the actual supporting evidence argument it self, I did not make it past that. I do like the effort to actually back your claims, it just felt like work to try and read through your entire post.

If your argument is indeed the "what came first" argument, does it account for the fact that, even if you are indeed 100% right, that this argument does not in any way: prove the existence of any particular god that people worship today? That this argument gives just as much credence to flying spaghetti monster god, then it does the christian god, or Islam god etc? That all it really proves (if it is indeed correct) that there is some sort of powerful greater being out there, but just as likely that there is no reason to spare thought let alone worship such a being?

Dumb Ox's picture
It is the cosmological

It is the cosmological argument but not the one presented by people like William Craig. It does not rely on there being a beginning to the universe.

It does not prove a spesific God like the Trinity or something, but it does rule out a lot of religions and notions of gods.

I am not sure how to simplify it anymore. I would scup down to where I present the second way of St. Thomas in a syllogism.

LogicForTW's picture
Okay, thanks for the reply, I

Okay, thanks for the reply, I scanned through your initial post now.
I see that you stated it does not prove any particular faith or god.

Perhaps I need to more carefully read your initial post but it seems, you are sort of arguing that we should call existence, everything, as: god. Some sort of entity that's should be recognized is that it can exist and.. always existed? And because of the fact that it always existed and is which everything else stems from we should call it god.

I was not always an atheist, I was agnostic before, (by lack of word definition understanding.) Then I looked up the definition of atheist and god.

Generally accepted atheist definition: "a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods"

Which of course means we need to clearly define god for the atheist definition to mean anything. Merriam Webster's definition of god is as follows:

capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: such as -
1
a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshiped as creator and ruler of the universe
b : Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind
2
a : a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality Greek gods of love and war

These two definitions made me realize I was not agnostic but atheist, pretty much all along. I do not believe in a being perfect in power wisdom or goodness. Or incorporeal divine principle ruling over all eternal spirit. (I also do not believe in spirit as most major religions depict it.) And I certainly do not believe in anything that require human worship or give people a pedestal to stand on to spread their "ideals."

It seems you want to change the definition of "god" to: "an eternal, timeless, force or being, of which is responsible for the creation of all things." To which I say that by it self, sure, I believe in the possibility of some sort of eternal timeless thing, (nothing like all the major religions depict gods, and certainly worshiping it is a waste of time.) By your definition of god I become agnostic, I think it would be foolish to completely dismiss the possibility of some sort of timeless entity that is responsible for the universe coming into existence. (I actually feel the theory of infinity makes a lot more sense then a timeless entity, but neither can be conclusively proven.)

It also seems you are prepared to then later add more definitions to the term god. Which is perfectly fine, many people have different interpretations of god. But in general communication and discourse on subjects like this, you have to be careful adding definitions to words such as "god." Or we could end up arguing about two very different things.

If we accept Merriam Webster's definition of god (and most other generally accepted definition) you have not proven or laid the groundwork for god at all, you are presenting a new idea, and if that idea alone represented the whole of your beliefs, I could argue by definition you are an atheist.

Dumb Ox's picture
Basically, I am proving

Basically, I am proving certain aspects of God. I think I have prove that there is a being who just is of himself. I call this being God, but I would have to prove many other characteristics of this being. So for now, I am content to prove that this being is the first cause and has existence necessarily.

LogicForTW's picture
I feel like all you did was

I feel like all you did was change the definition of god. Which is fine, you are perfectly well allowed to do that. I will keep in mind your new definition (as it currently stands) of god in further conversation with you.

I have not noticed in your writing any definitive testable proof of your entity idea, just a: "it makes no sense to have everything arise from nothing," so I am going to come up with the idea of a timeless entity that can do that. Which you/others have likely made up to try and support your particular god idea.

I and others call this sort of thing the "god of gaps" it is one of several concepts religious people come up with to try and prove their god, as knowledge and discovery every continuously pushes back the boundaries of what we do and do not understand.

I am real curious how you are going to tie the christian god to this new god definition you created beyond the: "if we can agree on the possibility of some sort of timeless entity responsible for the universe coming into being we need to consider the possibility that gives merit to the idea that: that entity is my particular god."

Except of course the entire argument is about negatives. Atheist can not account for nothing or infinity, and atheist can not disprove that the god idea (cosmological,) either, my idea, based purely on a thought process, (no actual evidence as well.) In this god of the gaps argument there is zero evidence on either side, meaning neither side can build further arguments for their case about the existence or non existence of god based on "what came first?" It purely becomes conjecture argument where every side wins and loses.

Nyarlathotep's picture
"Motion is nothing else than

Dumb Ox - "Motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality."...

The argument from motion is an à posteriori...

1. (Premise) It is evident that there is motion which is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. (Empirical fact)

You started with a postulate; then quickly declared it a posteriori knowledge; then an empirical fact. You are playing very fast and loose.

Dumb Ox's picture
I defined what motion is and

I defined what motion is and then I said that we see motion. How is that fast and loose?

Nyarlathotep's picture
Dumb Ox - I defined what

Dumb Ox - I defined what motion is and then I said that we see motion.

Right, you take something we all somewhat familiar with (motion) let's call the definition A. Then you present a new definition for it as fiat (B). Then you conflate our experiences with A as empirical evidence for your fiat definition B.

If you are going to redefine motion with a postulate; you need to stop using it the old way. Better yet; pick a new word.

Dumb Ox's picture
But we see motion B as well.

But we see motion B as well. For instance, a piece of clay has the potential to be a statue. But this potential has to be actualized by someone else. Tell you what. Show me an example of a potential that actualized itself, and then my argument will be proved wrong.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Dumb Ox - But we see motion B

Dumb Ox - But we see motion B as well. For instance, a piece of clay has the potential to be a statue.

Exactly how much "potential" do you see in this lump of clay to become a statue? Please give units. Please explain exactly how you calculated this amount in an objective fashion.

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Dumb Ox's picture
So if you cannot quantify

So if you cannot quantify something then you cannot get any useful data from it? Not everything has to be able to be measured with human instruments.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Dumb Ox - Not everything has

Dumb Ox - Not everything has to be able to be measured with human instruments.

It kind of does, if you are a human!

CyberLN's picture
I agree with Nyar.

I agree with Nyar.

Additionally, I find your premise #2 problematic in that you say, in essence, that which is moved by something is moved by something. D'oh! If, however, you mean to say that everything that moves must have been moved, then I don't see how you could call that an empirical fact. We do not actually know if that is true.

Dumb Ox's picture
I am saying everything which

I am saying everything which moves must be moved by another. Furthermore, I am using motion in a specific sense. I am using it the Aristotle uses as opposed to Plato. When the terms are understood we know this to be true.

Algebe's picture
If your god is supposed to be

If your god is supposed to be supernatural, why are you attempting to use the logic of physics and the natural world to prove its existence?

xenoview's picture
Dumb Ox

Dumb Ox
You gave a long posting, I skimmed it. You seem to talk in circle without proving anything. You haven't proven any god either.

mykcob4's picture
I read your entire post and

I read your entire post and Nyar is correct. You have purposely CHANGED the definition to suit your narrative.
Secondly, you have never PROVED a prime mover. All you did was stated that there MUST be a prime mover. That is NOT empirical fact, that is an assumption. You have jumped to a conclusion...a leap of faith.
In fact, all you have done is just state that because things are and they move that there is a god and called that fact. It isn't even close to fact. It is a set of assumptions that have no real conclusion.
Plus, you ignore that by your logic that the prime mover MUST have a prime mover. In otherwords, your god MUST by your logic, MUST have a god.
You have done nothing here. You haven't proved anything, you haven't even used sound logic for your mythological theory. You've ignored the principles of discovery and the basis of fact.
I really don't know why you posted here. I ASSUME that YOU think that you have something new. You don't. We have seen this "prime mover" theory before. It is a remnant of "intelligent design." It is complete and utter bullshit.

Dumb Ox's picture
I reason from the empirical

I reason from the empirical fact of motion and casality to a first uncaused cause or unmoved mover. And no my logic does not necessitate the first mover having a cause. There is no premise "everything that exists has a cause". That would be very stupid. Rather, everything which does not exist by nature or of itself has a cause.

Don't feel bad, but you don't understand the cosmological argument. Neither does Dawkins or Hitchens or the like.

I suggest you read this
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html...

What I have is not new but goes back to Aristotle. Sadly, even many thirsts egnore it and settle for the merely probabilistic design argument. Finally here is no faith here but only reasoning.

mykcob4's picture
@Dumb Ox

@Dumb Ox
Ha! What a crock, claiming that people don't understand because they KNOW that you are wrong. I know what you are saying and trying to say. I have seen it a million times if I have seen it once. There is nothing new in what you are trying to say is fact. It isn't fact. You have to prove that there is a prime mover. You just can't say that there is a prime mover and claim it as a fact. I'm sue that Hitchens AND Dawkins know much more than you. Your link is an OP about an OP from a source that is notoriously not credible. Fucking unbelievable.

Dumb Ox's picture
Dawkins probably knows less

Dawkins probably knows less than you. He thought St. Thomas believed that reason proved the world had a beginning, even though he explicitly denies that. If you know what I am saying and it is easy to refute it and has been done then do it again.

Sam's picture
Who cares what Dawkins,

Who cares what Dawkins, Hitchens, St. Thomas, or the dude who sold me my last pair of pants thinks? The arguments stand or fall on their own merit. Your argument is a restatement of a thoroughly debunked argument. If you think you can slip by this group with such a simplistic manipulation, you've got another think coming.

xenoview's picture
The unmoved mover is an

Dumb Ox
The unmoved mover is an oxymoron of a statement. How can something be unmoved and move. Your trying to have your cake and eat it too. Is your unmoved mover suppose to be a god? If it is your god that does the moving then provide testable evidence that can pass peer review.

Dumb Ox's picture
It moves other things but is

It moves other things but is not itself moved. It is pure act so it does not need to be moved to move others. Not everything has to be proven by the scientific method... for instance the scientific method or the principle of non contradiction etc.

xenoview's picture
So you admit your god is not

So you admit your god is not testable by science? Then your god is all in your mind. I have a lack of belief in any of the human gods or any god. I bet your an Atheist to all other gods but your own.

Dumb Ox's picture
It's not testable by science,

It's not testable by science, but by philosophy. Science measures the material and this being has to be immaterial, although I have not proven that yet. However, it is not all in my mind. Argument by assertion can be denied by assertion.

xenoview's picture
So you dodge the science

So you dodge the science testing with philosophy. Philosophy cannot prove a god exist, all it does is claim one exist. Philosophy cannot provide testable evidence for peer review. So you have failed to prove your god is real. Does your god talk to you? If it talks to you, then it's all in your head. You are an atheist to all other gods that humans worship.

Sam's picture
All you really have done is

All you really have done is justify your belief. You have (and won't prove anything). Any belief can be justified, but the real test is to prove it. So, prove it.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Dumb Ox - Rather, everything

Dumb Ox - Rather, everything which does not exist by nature

Can you give an example of something that exists, but "does not exist by nature"?

Dumb Ox's picture
You do not exist by nature.

You do not exist by nature. It is possible that you would never had been born. A house that decays or an animal that dies do not exist by their own nature. Also, when I say by nature I mean by its own nature or essence.

MCD's picture
Your post was way too long

Your post was way too long and you said nothing new. So your position seems to be that being or entity or a god is the prime mover. Okay, can you prove it? And while you're proving it, please tell us where the prime mover came from... and why the prime mover doesn't need a prime mover. And if your response is to assert that the prime mover is eternal, then I am free to assert that the universe is eternal

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