As we were saying about Aquinas’ Five Ways to prove the existence of God, before we were so rudely interrupted by the necessity of work, upon which our glamorous Nanook-like Minnesota existence is contingent. And speaking of necessary and contingent existence:
Way #3: Everything we see is born, falls apart and dies. Even The God Project Dot Net will someday — once we have answered the Ultimate Question — stop. The most ardent cosmologist will tell you the Earth itself will grind to a halt, pick up its toolbox, and go. Turning probability theorist for a moment, Aquinas says: “If everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence.” With nothing, nothing happens.
I couldn’t help but notice Karen Armstrong’s recent “The Case for God” covers all our topics here at TGPDN with greater confidence. (It’s a very good book. Once you’re done here, you have our permission to pounce.) She says, with her usual combo of insight and elegance: “All the five ‘ways’ argue in one way or another that nothing can come from nothing.” (p144)
There are two parts to the Third Way, the first of which is this weird little probability equation which seems to say that, given an infinite amount of time, and a universe in which all things that exist sometimes don’t, you will have a moment when there is nothing. From which no-thing can come. Calling God.
Imagine a cosmic slot machine eventually rocking all zeroes. Even Armstrong ignores this part. It’s odd. The second part, from Avicenna (aka Ibn Sena), builds on the difference between “necessary” and “contingent” beings. All of us are “contingent” – we required another being (or two) to exist. But in our zero-slot universe, there must be some “necessary” being that does not require another being to exist. And even if this “necessary” being is caused by another “necessary” being, says Aquinas, “it is impossible to go on to infinity ….” There must be something whose being comes from itself, aka, God.
Way #4: Take these adjectives – good, true, noble, hot. No, it’s not a description of Angelina Jolie. These are the qualities Aquinas uses as examples of “things” that come in shades. They are more or less present as they are more or less close to the “maximum.” The sliding scale itself implies a maximum, as we call something “hotter” as it gets closer to perfect hotness. This perfect hotness everyone agrees is named Salma Hayek, I mean, God.
Way #5: Is the coolest, hottest Way of all – and the favorite of contemporary Evangelicals. It’s the so-called Argument from Design. Caliente filosofia, amigos!