Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Existence of God and The Nature of Human Knowledge visit our website


                        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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