Philosophy begins with the surprise why is there something rather than nothing. The surprise with existence is the first step in philosophical reflection : why is there a universe? Why are there so many things both living and not living? Why do I exist at all or how come I exist? This moment of reflection about existence is the final puzzle in all philosophical reflection. This level of thinking is the necessary level of human intelligence reaching towards the absolute ultimate question . There seems not to be any intrinsic necessity for the existence of anything finite or the world considered as a sort of totality. Whatever somehow exists stands out as a reality presenting a mystery to the human mind and requiring analysis and intelligibility . In the very fact that the human mind asks any question at all there already is an indication that it is surprised with existence of anything. After all there is no immediate obviousness in the fact that something is, that it exists. There is no impossibility in the thought that there would be nothing at all . This triggers the human mind to scrutinize and inquire into this fundamental question: Why is there something rather than nothing. This is the very essence and the ultimate reason for philosophical and also metaphysical reflections. The desire for metaphysical certainty cannot be in any other way satisfied without , at the same time , destroying the very nature of the human mind and it’s natural dynamism toward ultimate explanation of being as such. This is why any systems of explaining reality and knowledge which does not acknowledge the validity of metaphysics after David Hume and Immanuel Kant cannot really be accepted as way of attaining the truth.
The principle of intelligibility of reality demands also acceptance of the principle of causality . David Hume did not acknowledge causality as intrinsic part of the universe, but beings which are observable are not passive and inert particles neutral to each other and without influencing the other particles. Such a universe of neutral units of some sorts is not impossible to imagine, but it is not the universe in which we live, experience and know. From the very bottom of anything that we can call “exists,” that is the fundamental particles, or waves of energy , the structure of the atom , all the way to the most complicated beings, including living things, conscious entities, and finally human self -conscious subjects endowed with intelligence, there is a mutual intrinsic connectedness and causal activity under the influence of gravity , chemical affinity , electromagnetism in the world. Causality therefore is all pervasive in nature. After Einstein’s theory of relativity and his well known equation: E=mc2 matter and energy are convertible reality.
The universe therefore is composed of at least the material and the mental, and there is mutual interdependence between the two, although not identity, but deep qualitative difference, not exclusively in degrees . The material and the mental are two radically different aspects in nature , although in action there exist mutual interdependence between the two.
The fact that some beings come into existence but also may stop existing is the first important observation, which leads the human mind to ask about the nature of such entities . This is the ground of contingency of all finite beings. Contingency means that a being does not have a completely intelligible reason for it’s own existence. Each contingent being therefore is radically dependent on another , which is it’s preceding cause. It is not important how many of such finite entities exist since the whole universe is composed of such entities and therefore the universe also is contingent, requiring some ground and ultimate cause of it’s being.
Why? Because otherwise one would have to accept the absurd belief that nothingness produces being. Metaphysically understood nothingness is the absolute absence of any trace or shadow of reality. Even if one imagines eternal duration of time, nothingness would never produce anything whatsoever. If nothingness cannot produce anything, then there must be necessarily, some infinite cause of the contingent universe. This mental procedure underlines all arguments for the First Cause , the First Mover, the Infinite Omnipotent Being which corresponds to the concept of the religious notion of God, the Creator of all reality. This First Cause is not part of the created universe , it is not finite , limited, and composed of parts. It is transcending all limited beings.
The First Cause, since it is Being, is analogical to finite beings and this analogy implies necessity that it possess infinitely and eminently all perfections, which in limited and finite way constitute the finite beings.
Metaphysical ways of proving the existence of the infinite cause of reality all have very similar structure. The Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas are all variations of the same movement of the mind from the contingent finite and limited beings to the reason for their existence, pointing to the necessary ground of them all. Thomas Aquinas after each way makes the statement : “ …and this all call God.”
He is aware that the ways he presented, are philosophical underpinnings for the belief in God the Creator. The Fifth Way among the arguments of Thomas is the argument from teleology in nature. Analyzed on the basis of the recent Latin text of Suma Contra Gentiles, Black Friars ed., in my book: “Finality and Intelligence.” Second ed.(2014)
Each existing being has some intrinsic structure which grounds it’s activity and orientation towards development and some end or goal . This is visible not only in living or conscious and intelligent beings like for examples humans, but in the dynamism of inanimate matter . Tendency towards an end is all pervasive in the universe . Every being acts for an end or goal . In the living universe one can see action for ends among both humans and animals.
Animals hunt for food , multiply, built shelters and nests for their young and protect their young in the their first stages of life. However animals do not show any significant improvement of their activities , they stay on the same level of their behavioral patterns, although they can be trained by man and they can learn ways of behaving which they do not display in their wild existence. (Pavlov ‘s experiment).
With man one sees the deep and qualitative difference in behavior , intelligence and modes of living . Man is not only a living animal but also a self-conscious person , with freedom of choice, inventive and a searcher for the ultimate meaning of existence. Humans are not only aware of the here and now ,but they also are conscious of their limits . They are aware of death, suffering and all other limitations of their finite existence. With the phenomenon of man a new level of existence appears in the universe. A conscious, intelligent, free, moral person appears, as Teilhard De Chardin insists that man is evolution become conscious of itself in his book “The Phenomenon of Man.” The spiritual element reveals itself in all goal orientated activity of humans. Because of his spirituality man is only a part of the whole universe evolving towards the point Omega which is inTeillard ‘s language the name for Christ. All finite entities, man included are God-oriented . When all this is said, man still remains a contingent being , that is a being which receives it’s intelligibility from it’s dependence on the First Cause . Therefor it is not proper to object against the reasoning based on contingency .
Once one enters into the field of religion, the First Cause becomes the Omnipotent , Infinitely Good and loving Father of humans, as His adopted children, especially in the context of Judaism and Christianity.
However, one can hear sometimes the objection: if all contingent finite beings are made by God , who made God himself? It is also claimed that we are involved here in an infinite regress which invalidates the argument from contingency . To this one must answer the obvious mistake of such an objection, for God does not belong to the same level of existence as any other finite being depending on His creative activity. God is existence in itself or as Thomas Aquinas would say: pure act of existence. We must remember that an infinite regress is not acceptable anymore , because among other reasons, the universe had a beginning. Hubble’s discovery of the expansion of the universe leads scientists to the “big bang theory” that is , the explosion of the universe into existence. Therefore the argument from contingency to the existence of God is valid and sound, because finite entities really exist and their existence must be grounded in the creative act of God.
When one uses the word God one enters into the field of religion and immediately the question occurs what is religion, what does it imply for the meaning of the existential position and destiny of humans. The essential point of this part of reflections was to stress the fact of the philosophical level of ways of reaching the existence of God . The crucial point here is to realize that philosophical reflection belongs to the very essence of the dynamism of the human mind. Whenever this fact is negated and the power of the human mind is limited to very restricted areas of knowledge, the reasoning ends in skepticism , agnosticism , reductionism and dogmatic atheism .
There are however some things to remember at this point .
1. Human beings are not only pure intellects
2. Abstract thinking is by no means easy for the average man,
3.Humans are not very eager to face with courage and determination the ultimate questions of existence and also of their own predicament when living on earth
4.Mental courage required for a persistent search for ultimate truth is not given to all people . But mental laziness and preoccupation with the immediate everyday actions of life are dominant .
5. Many people accept passively what they are told by their immediate surroundings : their parents , the social atmosphere and the all powerful mass media to such extend that they unconsciously accept all kinds of beliefs, and theories and consider them uncritically as true.
6. Independent thinking maybe very dangerous and expose the individual to all kinds of pressure and even persecution. That is why many people believe in the security of passive acceptance of what they are told.
7. The definition of man: rational animal, ,especially in our modern times, turns into the irrational man and the existential thinkers like Sartre , Nietzsche, Camus and so many others simply do not put much confidence in the validity of reasoning in life.
In the following part of reflections the objections against the existence of God will have to be analyzed and evaluated:
1. Is matter the only reality or the existence of the mental and spiritual has to be admitted .
2. Is there a mutual hostility between metaphysical thinking and scientific methods ,
3. Does evolution imply any solid objection to the existence of a Creator
4. If God is all Good and all Powerful why is there so much evil both natural and also moral , man made evil in this world?
5. Did God make a mistake creating such a universe full of disappointment, suffering and brutal evil?
6. Does humanity need any religion whatsoever or is it unnecessary burden slowing down man’s progress and creativity and happiness.
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