Ready, girls? I thought not. Here’s our best swipe at describing the Big Cat Mulla Sadra’s spooky philosophical argument for the existence of God, yowling at you from the 17th century. Breathe in, breathe out. Meow:
Philosophers are careful about words, much more careful than writers. Why? Because they’re not just playing games. (At least, we hope not.)
Since the Pre-Socratics, whom the Shiite Muslims of Sadra’s day revered, there was a lot of discussion about a “contingent” vs. a “necessary” being. Contingent means it relies on something else – it is not self-sufficient.
So, you are contingent on your sainted mother, Heather, and the yoga instructor. (I’m kidding.) The squalid tundra of Minneapolis is contingent on a wagon-load of clinically insane Scandinavians, who were themselves contingent on your sainted mother, Heather, and … kidding again. You get the point.
Everything is contingent. Except one thing.
To spoil the ending: Sadra says the only thing that is not a contingent being is Existence itself. And he equates Existence with God.
See what he’s done here? It’s quite breathtaking, across the centuries, poorly understood, in bad translation, butchered by a man who will probably never go to Iran. I mean it: breathtaking.
If Sadra can convince us that Existence is the only necessary thing … and that Existence actually exists … he seems to have proved God exists. It’s a long road from here to Jentezen Franklin or the Episcopal Synod, of course, but that’s a different problem.
Pause tape. Rewind. We can imagine something in our minds, like a “Lost Island,” says Sadra, and it can have all kinds of super-amazing properties and still not exist. (Gaunilo: 1.) But we cannot imagine “Existence” itself as not existing. (Anselm: TKO.)
We invite you to try it. Think about “Existence.” Got it? Now try to conceive of a world – any world – where “Existence” does not exist. Hmmm. Awkward. We may have found it: One It-ness that MUST exist: Existence itself.
One more step. Existence is the essence of everything that exists. It’s not an accidental, or predicate. It’s required. Necessary. And Sadra equates this “Existence” with ….
“Nothing is more perfect than Him. And in Him there is no room for non-existence or imperfection.” (Asfar, Vol 6: 14-16)