Prelude to a Series on Aquinas' "Five Ways"

Proof that God Exists?

Prelude to a Series on Aquinas' "Five Ways"


00:00 – CA (Host)
Can we prove that God exists? It depends on who you ask. Some people have a strange idea of what proof actually is. We’re going to talk about that. We’re going to talk about different kinds of evidence and we’re going to preface a short series that this is introducing, a series on Aquinas’ five ways. Now, this is going to be a little philosophical. You may suspect that it might go over your head a little bit, depending on where you are in your experience with philosophy, but I’m going to make this very real and very connectable for you. So don’t tune me out, stick with it. You’re going to fit in just fine by the evidence provided.

We decide that the evidence provided to us does or does not establish the likelihood or the certainty that a claim or assertion is true. For example, a murder suspect could be found guilty of the crime of murder even without a murder weapon. A jury may be presented with various exhibits of evidence, ranging from the person’s possible motive, his relationship to the victim, the timeline of his day, you know, was he within proximity to the victim, did he have the time to commit the crime, and so on, and from that evidence provided, he may be found guilty of murder even without a murder weapon, even without photographic evidence, or if there’s reasonable doubt in the veracity of the evidence, he may be found not guilty. So proof really is a judgment call. It’s a judgment call based on the evidence. The evidence itself does not say this is proof or this is not proof. The evidence informs a judgment and that judgment is proof or a lack of proof. This proves murder. This fails to prove murder. There may be no photographic evidence of a murderer’s guilt, there may not even be DNA evidence, but the available evidence may still, in the mind of the jurors, establish sufficient proof of the person’s guilt. Proof of God’s existence is similar. It’s a judgment call based on the evidence presented, and there are at least two types of evidence that we’re going to talk about Logical evidence and material evidence.

Logical evidence is evidence that’s rational, logical and fits the available data where nothing else better fits the data. For instance, let’s say I leave a plate of food on my table and then I step away to go to the kitchen to get a fork. When I come back and I find the plate of food is now empty, it’s either evidence that the food simply vanished, or it’s evidence that I only imagined having served the food or it’s evidence that my dog Rocky got to the plate before I came back to it? Which better fits the available data of a plate that was full when I left it and empty when I returned, my dog having eaten the food, is the conclusion that best fits the logical evidence. There may not be a photograph or a video of my dog scarfing my food, but only one conclusion fits the data Photographic evidence would be material evidence.

It’s physical. Maybe paw prints on my chair would be material evidence. That’s also physical. Sauce stains around my dog’s mouth might be material evidence. Material evidence is of a physical character. It can be seen, measured, quantified and so on.

Logical evidence belongs strictly to the realm of reason and logic. It’s evidence that may not necessarily be physical in nature. Now back to the question can we prove that God exists, understanding that proof is a judgment on the evidence and that material evidence is impossible to find? When we’re arguing for the existence of an immaterial God, we have to rely on logical evidence. And by analyzing logical evidence we can indeed establish that God exists, or we can at least establish that he very likely exists and that no other conclusion better fits the available data. The likelihood is so certain, in fact, that we as rational creatures must necessarily conclude by reason that God absolutely exists. So let me recap there are at least two kinds of evidence material evidence, usually physical in character, and then there’s logical evidence. Logical evidence isn’t necessarily physical, it’s rational, and that doesn’t mean it’s not real. God is not physical, he’s spiritual. He does not exist within the natural realm, he exists outside of it, and so it’s going to be impossible to find material evidence for God’s existence. Usually, atheists are looking for material evidence of God’s existence, which really is ridiculous, because if you ever find material evidence of God’s existence, what you’ve really found is evidence of an alien. You’ve found evidence of another creature, but that’s another conversation. So there’s material evidence, there’s logical evidence, and by the demonstration of the logical evidence we can arrive at a conclusion, at proof, that God exists.

In this short series I’m going to talk a little bit about how St Thomas Aquinas presented logical evidence for God’s existence in a set of arguments or proofs that are often referred to as the five ways. I’ll just mention them now, and then in subsequent episodes I’ll actually talk about them a little bit. The first is the argument from motion, the second the argument from efficient cause. The third the argument from necessary being. The fourth the argument from gradation. And the fifth the argument from gradation and the fifth the argument from design.

Now people have been mulling this over and trying to logically defeat these arguments. In my experience and I have a lot of experience debating atheists atheists really fail to establish superior arguments that break the arguments that St Thomas Aquinas is making here, that break the arguments that St Thomas Aquinas is making here. As I said, logical evidence establishes the truth of a claim where nothing else better fits the conclusion. Going back to the example of my empty plate of food, maybe the food vanished or maybe my dog ate it. Which conclusion best fits the logical evidence? In the next episode of this series, I’ll talk about the first of St Thomas Aquinas’ five ways, the argument for motion. This is the Catholic Adventurer. Thank you for listening. God bless you and God be with you all.

Can we prove that God exists? It depends on what “proof” means to you, but the simple answer is YES.

The nature of proof itself is under scrutiny in our this first of a 6-part series on Aquinas’ Five Ways (or proofs of God’s existence). In this episode I unpack different kinds of evidence, specifically logical evidence and material evidence, and how they contribute to our understanding of “proof”. No matter your experience with philosophy, this conversation is designed to be accessible and engaging. This episode serves as a prelude to a series exploring Aquinas’ five ways, and whether you’re a seasoned philosopher or a curious mind, there’s something here for you.

This series will be exclusively for paid members to my Locals Community, and paid subscribers of my website

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